On Jan. 7, Disney released new images for Sam Raimi’s “Oz The and Great and Powerful.” A prequel of sorts to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” the Disney film stars James Franco of the carnival magician and con man turned wizard, with Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz as three of the land’s witches.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” is based on L. Frank Baum's body of work, but the screenplay by Mitchell Kapner (“The Whole Nine Yards”) and David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole,” “Robots”), focuses on fleshing out the wizard's character.
“This is the story of how the wizard came to be the wizard,” states director Raimi, who helmed the “Spider-Man” trilogy, in a Disney press release. “It’s a story of how a small-time carnival magician, a faker, a charlatan, a selfish man, comes to a fantastic world just in time to save the day. It’s the story of how an average, selfish man becomes a great and selfless wizard.”
The seven new "Oz" images provide a look at the some of the movie's human stars: Franco, Kunis and Williams. Equally important for the film is its depiction of Oz and its citizens, and these images offer a detailed look at Raimi’s Munchkins. They also focus on two characters who are featured in other promotional materials, including the “Oz” trailer: China Girl (voiced by Joey King) and the winged monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff).
Combined with previously released "Oz" images, these stills give fans a better look at the fantastical world imagined by Raimi and his creative collaborators behind the camera, including cinematographer Peter Deming (“Drag Me to Hell,” “Mulholland Drive”) and production designer Robert Stromberg (“Alice in Wonderland,” Avatar”).
“The other projects I’ve done have been much more virtual,” Stromberg says in the press release. “For this particular film, I wanted to define a theatrical stage quality. I don’t think that you can get that from completely digital worlds. So, the only way to achieve that theatrical stage feeling was to build large sets on sound stages. Then extend those using visual effects in a supportive role rather than a dominant role that takes over all aspects of the filmmaking process.”
Also contributing to the look of Raimi’s “Oz” are film editor Bob Murawski (“The Hurt Locker”), costume designers Gary Jones (“Spider-Man”) and Michael Kutsche (“Thor”), and special effects make up artists Greg Nicotero (“Seven”) and Howard Berger (“The Chronicles of Narnia” series).
Disney’s official synopsis for the film:
“Oz The Great and Powerful" imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking – that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even a bit of wizardry – Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King and Bruce Campbell. The movie will be released in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D on March 8.