Time to dust off those ruby slippers, folks: A new version of “The Wizard of Oz” is in the works.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nicole Kassell has signed on to direct a new adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” for New Line Cinema. The story has, of course, been adapted for the screen several times before, most notably as the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale.
“While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale,” Kassell, whose credits include 2004’s “The Woodsman” and episodes of “Watchmen” and “The Americans,” said in a statement. “The opportunity to examine the original themes —the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever.”
“These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill,” she added, “and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road!”
“The Wizard of Oz” hasn’t exactly been an untouchable property in the 82 years since Garland’s Dorothy flew over the rainbow. Baum’s characters have been reprised on screen in 1985’s “Return to Oz” and 2013’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” as well as on Broadway in the musicals “The Wiz” and “Wicked.”
And because New Line’s parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, owns the rights to the 1939 film, the upcoming adaptation will apparently be the first to reference trademarked elements from that version, including the ruby slippers.
After news of the remake broke Tuesday, many on social media took it as a sobering reminder that, yes, nothing is ever truly sacred in Hollywood.
“While i admire the gumption of someone trying to remake a near-flawless classic i can’t see why, as a filmmaker, you’d want to,” one person wrote. “Wizard Of Oz remains, in its original form, one of the most magical big screen experiences. Replicating that will be nigh on impossible.”
Added another, “I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st, and an April Fools’ joke.”
Others, however, were a bit more optimistic, noting that “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” had been adapted as a silent film three times before 1939.
News of the remake comes amid a resurgence of interest in both Baum’s characters and Garland herself. Earlier this month, Jon M. Chu of “Crazy Rich Asians” confirmed he’d joined the film adaptation of “Wicked” as a director.
Last year, Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for portraying Garland in the acclaimed biopic “Judy,” and the year before that, “A Star is Born” was a box office and awards season smash, with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in updated versions of James Mason and Garland’s roles in the 1954 film of the same name.