Two years ago brought the news that Warner Bros. was developing an animated movie based on the Collins Michael Morpurgo book Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz, a film retelling the classic story from the POV of the cuddly dog companion. Deadline now reports that the film has found its director with Two-time Tony nominated director Alex Timbers tapped to bring it to the big screen. In addition to working on Broadway, Timbers also has his hands in television as well having previously developed and executive produced Mozart in the Jungle for Amazon and directing John Mulaney's stand up special "Kid Gorgeous at Radio City."
Aladdin and Frankenweenie screenwriter John August penned the script which will turn its on head on The Wizard of Oz. Though he was confined to Dorothy's basket in the original movie, Totohad a handful of classic moments in the story including being the reason the group realized that the Wizard himself was just a bumbly man behind a curtain. Derek Frey will produce the film.
Here's one potentially interesting wrinkle about the project. Though L. Frank Baum's original book of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is very clearly in the public domain, and thus can be made into any kind of work or movie that an author wishes (such is the case with the Toto book), the feature film from 1939 is still under copyright protection...and is owned by Warner Bros. Pictures outright.
This is why when new versions of the story or characters are created, they can't use the look or lines from that movie (even the pigment of the Wicked Witch of the West's skin is owned by the studio). As a result, it seems possible that this new film could incorporate elements from the classic movie into its look or plot, though with it being animated there's the possibility that it will adhere closer to the artistic style used by Emma Chichester Clark in the book's illustrations. Either way, it's a potentially exciting development considering the film's ownership.
Last year came the news that Legendary Entertainment is developing a TV show set in the Land of Oz from L. Frank Baum's original novels. The series will deal with characters that have yet to be explored in movies or TV and will be written and produced by Now You See Me scribe Ed Ricourt. The series takes place in the years following the long-exiled Witch's return to the land of Oz. She brings fear, division, and war to the entire land, and the only hope is a servant girl who could potentially become the most powerful and dangerous woman in the realm.
(Cover photo creidt: Harper Collins/Emma Chichester Clark)