So, with less than five months from the premiere, Disney has begun a new wave of promotion for Oz: The Great and Powerful.
In an article for USA Today, director Sam Raimi drops a few hints about the plot: "(Oscar Diggs is) mistaken for Oz the Great and Powerful, destined to be the next king of Emerald City. But he's only to receive that title if he can defeat the Wicked Witch."
Sounds really good, right?
Yeah, except we've seen that done at least twice by Disney in the past eight years.
The film is already being compared with Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which, I won't lie, I wasn't a fan of. This sequel to Lewis Carroll's nonsensical satire took a dark and serious approach to the material: the Red Queen (the Queen of Hearts with a name change) has taken over Underland (supposedly, Alice got the name wrong, never mind that no one in those stories named their country) and the White Queen and a rag tag band of misfits wait for the return of Alice to slay the Jabberwocky so they can take back their country. Except Alice doesn't believe that she is who they're waiting for.
I'll cut straight to it, I'm practically seeing the same story set to unfold in this new Oz film. However, I'm not despairing, perhaps this idea will work out better with Glinda and the Wizard fighting the Wicked Witches of the East and West. I'm not expecting it to fully blend with Baum's books, but we'll see where they go with it.
But where did they get this plot from?
Now, note, Walden Media was the actual production company behind The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but Disney did work on it with them.
In the film, the plot deviates slightly from the book, placing the hope for the land of Narnia to be delivered from the icy grip of the White Witch into the hands of the four Pevensie children. Eldest brother Peter, who's unsure if they're really able to help the land. (In the original book, more emphasis is placed on the involvement of Aslan, the titular lion, though the film doesn't ignore him.) The plot worked well there because it was derived from the book with a gentle reworking.
Now, you can't blame Disney for sticking with a great-selling plot (Narnia made over $745 million, Alice walked off with over $1,024 million), but honestly, I wish they'd at least come up with something new, or wait ten years before trotting it out again.
Well, we'll see how it works.