Watchmen Director To Helm Of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz For New Line
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Watchmen Director Will Helm A New Adaption of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz For New Line Cinema

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BY February 11, 2021

Watchmen director Nicole Kassell is set to direct a new adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The project will be produced through New Line Cinema, which is also part of Warner Bros. The film will draw from the original source material of Baum’s famous novel.

Warner Bros. also owns the copyright to the beloved 1939 musical starring Judy Garland. That means Kassell’s take could incorporate elements from that film – such as the ruby slippers. (In the book, they are silver slippers. They were changed to ruby for the dramatic technicolor reveal of the film.)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Nicole Kassell Image via Penguin Random House

Nicole Kassell Will Direct A New Adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Kassell is obviously no stranger to genre film and television. And she clearly has skill at adapting well known novels and franchises. She has worked on hit genre shows on HBO such as The Leftovers, Westworld, and of course Watchmen. According to Deadline.com, New Line Cinema has been extensively searching for a “visionary filmmaker” to create a new re-imagining of the classic children’s book. Kassell’s world-building skills, visual excellence, and attention to detail is what got her the job.

“I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen,” Kassell said. “While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale. 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, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road.”

One More Film In A Long List of Oz Adaptations

The Wizard of Oz Nicole Kassell Wonderful Wizard of Oz Image via Warner Bros.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has actually seen adaptation as stage plays and films many times since its publication in  1900. There is historical precedent for the 1939 film being a musical. The original stage play produced by Baum himself was written as a vaudeville show. Other famous musical adaptations include The Wiz, and of course the Oz-inspired musical Wicked based on the Gregory Maguire fanfiction… uh I mean novels that were written after the property entered the public domain. There is no word yet on whether Kassell’s adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz will continue in this tradition. But you know we’ll be keeping an eye on this project as it develops.

The film is currently working with the title of the original book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The film is high on New Line’s priority list. So it is likely that we will see casting news in the months to come. Meanwhile, you can stay tuned to Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter to keep an eye out for my upcoming article about why they should adapt more Oz books beyond the first one. (Yes, there are actually over 40 canonical Oz books. Although only the first 14 were written by Baum. And it feels like no one knows about them but me. So you better believe I have worthy candidates for adaptations beyond the first book.)

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

Adaptation NewsAdaptationsChildren's BooksL. Frank BaumNicole KassellOzThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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