[See previous post: "James Franco Oz the Great and Powerful Box Office: One of the Biggest March Debuts Ever?"] In addition to 2010 Best Actor Oscar nominee James Franco (127 Hours), Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful features Mila Kunis (Black Swan) as Theodora, Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, recently seen opposite Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy) as Evanora, three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn) as the Good Fairy Glinda (played by Billie Burke in the 1939 version), plus Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, and Joey King. (Photo: Michelle Williams as Glinda in Oz the Great and Powerful.)
David Lindsay-Abaire (Rise of the Guardians, Rabbit Hole) and Mitchell Kapner (Days of Wrath, The Whole Nine Yards) were credited for the Oz the Great and Powerful screenplay. The film’s producer is Joe Roth, whose credits include Tim Burton / Johnny Depp’s Alice in Wonderland and Rupert Sanders / Kristen Stewart’s Snow White and the Huntsman (both compared to Oz the Great and Powerful’s [potential] opening weekend box office figures in the preceding article), in addition to Robert Stromberg’s upcoming fantasy Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, and the Tom Cruise / Cameron Diaz actioner Knight and Day.
Oz the Great and Powerful has its gargantuan budget set somewhere between $200m and $215 million, depending on the source. That figure doesn’t include marketing and distribution expenses, which have reportedly added close to $100m to the film’s total cost.
The Wizard of Oz movies
Among the several movie versions of L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wizard of Oz are a 1910 short featuring future silent film star Bebe Daniels as Dorothy; a 1925 feature directed by comedian Larry Semon (who does double duty as the Scarecrow), and featuring Dorothy Dwan as Dorothy, Charles Murray as the Wizard, and a pre-stardom Oliver Hardy in a supporting role; and MGM’s 1939 musical directed by Gone with the Wind’s Victor Fleming, and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy and featuring Frank Morgan as the Wizard. (Check out Judy Garland’s son and grandchildren at The Wizard of Oz screening.)
Curiously, though a major hit — approx. $3 million (about $105 million today*) in rentals (money that went into MGM’s coffers) — The Wizard of Oz was initially perceived as a box office disappointment when compared to its costly $2.77 million (approx. $46 million today*) budget.
* The $2.77 million figure (found on various websites) doesn’t include marketing and distribution expenses worldwide. The $3 million figure apparently represents worldwide rentals. The updated $105 million figure is based on the National Association of Theater Owners’ yearly domestic ticket-cost averages; those, especially for decades-old movies that earned much (or most) of their grosses from pricier first-run houses in major urban centers, aren’t 100 percent reliable. (See also: “Robert Zemeckis not to direct The Wizard of Oz remake.”)
Oz the Great and Powerful Michelle Williams photo: Merie Weismiller Wallace / Walt Disney Enterprises.