While Disney topper Rich Ross and production president Sean Bailey have been beating the drum on both coasts for Tron: Legacy and Tangled, they have just solidified their next 3D event-sized family film followup to Alice in Wonderland. The studio has received a commitment from director Sam Raimi to Oz: The Great And Powerful as his next film. Raimi had become attached to Oz in June, with the hope of landing Robert Downey Jr to play the title character. At the time, Raimi was also hot and heavy into the Legendary Pictures property World of Warcraft and it became a footrace to see which Raimi would make after dropping out of a 4th Spider-Man. I’m told that Disney now expects Raimi to start production next year. Meanwhile, the studio has hired for rewrite duty David Lindsay-Abaire, who just adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole into a drama that will be Lionsgate’s Oscar hope — particularly for Nicole Kidman — following the mini-major’s acquisition of the drama at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Downey hasn’t locked in yet, but it’s looking good. He was initially lukewarm on Oz and turned down several early approaches. Downey joined the superstar club partly by making very shrewd choices like Iron Man, Tropic Thunder and the upcoming Todd Phillips-directed Due Date. The staggering billion dollar worldwide gross of Disney’s Alice In Wonderland certainly helps the argument though, and Downey has been warming as Raimi honed the movie. Lindsday-Abaire certainly classes it up. Aside from Rabbit Hole, his credits include Robots and Inkheart. More pertinent to Oz, the writer was one of the scribes who worked closely with Raimi as they tried to fix that fourth Spider-Man before Raimi threw in the towel and Sony Pictures Entertainment got started on its 3D reboot.
Disney should have the Oz field to itself, despite a number of rival projects around town based on the L. Frank Baum public domain source material. Universal Pictures is in the formative stages of turning the juggernaut hit musical Wicked into a film. And New Line and Warner Bros had a setback on their Oz picture when Guillermo del Toro turned it down to instead direct At the Mountains of Madness.