Could it actually be the next big thing? It seems Warner is willing to try and personally I wouldn't mind if they did.It appears Dorothy Gale is, once again, not going to be in Kansas any more. With the "Harry Potter" franchise winding down, Warner Brothers has set their sights on building another franchise geared toward young adults based on one of the most popular films of all time, "The Wizard of Oz."
Warner Brothers has had two separate projects in development over the past year centered around wide-eyed Dorothy Gale from Kansas -- a role made iconic by Judy Garland in 1939 -- who finds herself swept off (literally) to a magical land full of eccentric creatures called Oz. The box-office take of"Alice in Wonderland" -- $133 million domestically, and counting -- makes this project seem even more attractive.
Warner Brothers' New Line division has a version of the film written by Darren Lemke -- who helped write "Shrek Forever After" -- and produced by "Twilight" producer Temple Hill.(It's only fitting that "Twilight" would somehow be connected to a potential teen hit.) This version would not have any musical numbers and would be more faithful to "Oz" author L. Frank Baum's source material.
The second version would be set closer to the present and most likely be even darker. Especially considering that it's written by Josh Olson, who is best known for writing the screenplay for the bleak Viggo Mortensen thriller, "A History of Violence."
"Oz" is tempting for Warner Brothers for quite a few reasons. First and foremost, it could possibly fill the void left when the "Harry Potter" franchise ends. "Potter," of course, attracted an audience that skewed to a younger adult crowd; the same demographic "Oz" would target.
L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" -- the book that "The Wizard of Oz" is based on -- is just the first story in a series that spans 14 books. All fourteen books are now part of public domain. The original film, however, is not in public domain. In other words: Any reproduction of an element that was solely a part of the film's story and not the book will have rights fees still associated.
In 1985, Disney released "Return to Oz" which was based on Baum's second and third books in the series, "Ozma of Oz" and "The Marvelous Land of Oz." Disney had to pay royalties to MGM for use of the ruby red slippers.
This leads to an interesting question about the moneymaking potential of a new "Oz" franchise (ticket sales are but one revenue generator for films). Licensing merchandise may prove difficult, considering the books are in public domain. Could anyone license "Oz" merchandise? The short answer is "yes." But the general understanding is more complicated. Any new film, just like the original, would not be in public domain. Any merchandise based on characters depicted the way they appear in the new or original film would be protected. Though, it does appear that general merchandise based on the original books is fair game. What's the exact difference? If the new films are successful, that may be for a court to decide