Director Kenya Barris Will Take Us to See The Wizard of Oz

That’s right, witches—we’re going to Oz again, and I don’t mean in the two (TWO) Wicked movies. Last year, New Line announced it was making a “fresh take” on The Wizard of Oz that would be directed by Nicole Kassell (Watchmen). Things seem to be moving forward, but with a new director: Black-ish creator Kenya Barris.

Barris will also write the screenplay, though Variety notes, “Previous screenplay drafts were written by Darren Lemke and the duo of Neil Widener and Gavin James.” Details about how Barris plans to reimagine the story are still hidden behind the Wizard’s curtain, but Deadline describes the production as a “modern reimagining” of the 1939 musical (pictured above).

So it’s a remake of an adaptation, not a new story based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, from which all of this springs. Baum’s work has been adapted countless times, including as the 1939 film; 1978’s The Wiz, starring Diana Ross; and 1985’s Return to Oz, which used elements from other Oz books, starred Fairuza Balk, and mildly traumatized a generation. Baum’s Oz tales have inspired a gazillion episodes of TV and the series Emerald City; and then, of course, there’s Wicked, the blockbuster musical that’s loosely based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The long-gestating Wicked film adaptation is closer to real than it’s ever been, with two stars and—surprise!—two movies, rather than just one.

Which is not to say that there aren’t a million more ways to make new magic from the Wizard movie—but there may be more than one green witch on the scene when the latest version comes to pass. No release date has been announced for Barris’s Wizard.


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