>> McFarlane on the New, Dark “Oz” Film

dorothy.jpgIn a new interview with IGN, comic book icon and toy designer Todd McFarlane gave us the exclusive lowdown on the movie version of Oz. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are returning to Oz with a new school take on the world created by L. Frank Baum in his classic book series that inspired The Wizard of Oz.

The project is based on an idea by McFarlane that was fleshed out and pitched by A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson. Olson will write the script with McFarlane on board as a producer. Fans of McFarlane’s toy line will know of his off-kilter take on the subject which featured a dominatrix-looking Dorothy and Toto as a freaky looking warthog.

McFarlane recalled, “Someone in Hollywood saw (the Oz toys). They phoned and said, ‘Hey Todd, you have a pitch that you could come out here with?’ And of course I went, ‘… Yyyesss… Yes I do…’ So they said, ‘Oh good! Could you come in next week?’ So you know sometimes you come up with your best stuff with a gun to your head. I had a week and pitched some ideas back and forth with some of the people in the office, and came up with this huge, massive Lord of the Rings epic. It actually got fairly tight and succinct.”

He continued, “We actually went in there and for a while had Michael Bay going around with me pitching it. We had props, visuals, toys, storyboards, posters… I made little models of the city. I think it overwhelmed them. They said that they needed 20 minutes for a pitch and I was like, ‘I need at least an hour and fifteen. I’m going to act out this whole movie and show you the whole thing because this movie is going to cost at least $140 million to make. I don’t want you to not know what you’re buying.’ Anyway, it took a little longer than I would have liked, but eventually someone at Warner Bros finally went, ‘It’s crazy. It’s crazy enough that it might be worth starting the process.’ So you’re just beginning to push the boulder up the hill, but you have to get by that one where someone says they’re buying it. Maybe it’ll come out in a year and a half, maybe it’ll go into development hell. I’ve seen both versions.”

McFarlane said one has to be a “realist” about the changes that will be made to soften the dark tone of his original concept. “If you’re asking someone for $140 million, they’re completely the client. So you get to this moment in life where… they’re not making the movie exactly that I would have made, but they’re making something. And you have to go is that something better than, even if you had the power to insist it your way, not making it,” he explained. “There are those moments where you just have to compromise a bit and go this is a collaborative effort and here’s what the studio wants. It is dark and moody, but it’s always been a PG-13 movie. You might not see that in the toys because the toys weren’t built with that PG-13 in mind. The bondage Dorothy, in my pitch, is literally an eight second scene. Just one scene of her in that.”

IGN Movies

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6 Comments

  1. Okay…WB…Oz…if not He-Man or Thundercats, then do you see Tim Burton wanting to do THIS? I believe McFarlane and Burton have a working relationship, what with the Sleepy Hollow figures and McFarlane having Edward Scissorhands in one of the Movie Maniac lines. I don’t know of anyone else who would be able to pull off a PG-13 movie with a darker tone.

  2. Burton had a modern-day Oz TV pilot that he produced, but it went nowhere. I can’t see him doing this. I don’t think McFarlane’s sensibilities match Burton’s at all, really. Something like this will end up being directed by a rocker (Manson, Zombie) or someone known for making “MTV-style” horror flicks like a Marcus Nispel or maybe even James Wan. As for that $140million budget, Todd McFarlane is not only a complete idiot, but delusional as well.

  3. Yes, that budget is beyond unrealistic, but you really don’t think this would intrigue Burton even a little? I can’t see Zombie, Manson, or any other rocker wanting to do this with a guaranteed PG-13 rating.
    I agree that their sensibilities are different, and McFarlane probably does have much more in common with the metal heads, but I get the feeling that if McFarlane wants this made then he’ll have to get someone like Burton at the helm. I can see a large backlash if it’s too dark, and Tim Burton is about the only person out there that can give you a dark atmosphere and sets while still holding back enough to get the PG-13. I don’t see WB putting up even a small fraction of that money unless someone like Tim Burton is signed on to direct. Maybe the guy who did Lemony Snickets, but he’s not a name, and probably wouldn’t get people to buy in to McFarlane’s Oz off of his name alone like Tim Burton’s name could.

  4. They can get that budget down to around $75 mill if they “green screen” it, like Sky Captain or 300.

    I could see Burton making an oddball Oz film.

    I could see “Toddy Mac” making an oddball Oz film.

    I can’t see them doing this together. Not based on those toys, at least. What about Guillermo?

  5. I’d love to see what Guillermo would do with this. Hell, you could duplicate the entire cast of HELLBOY and put them in the Oz roles. I’ve no clue what the script looks like but, Doug Jones as The Scarecrow, Selma Blair as Dorothy, John Hurt as The Wizard, and Perlman could take his pick between The Lion and The Tin Man. Guillermo has been able to do a lot visually and stylistically with smaller budgets, so that would actually work pretty damn well.
    I would hope that they wouldn’t green screen it just for the purpose of being able to get in more for less. Something about Oz as a location feels like the scenery should be substantial. I can definitely see the perks of choosing it, and I wouldn’t blame them for utilizing it…but, I guess I’m just picturing something like LEGEND in my head. Nevermind, I can see it going well either way. The classic Oz used background paintings and such, so there wouldn’t be any real difference.

  6. they should go back in time and give this to stephen herek or wolfgang petersen circa 1984…or dig up jim henson and put him back to work.

    unfortunately, they don’t make movies like that anymore…even mirrormask, from the jim henson company came out pretty dull and lifeless in my opinion.


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