Thursday, January 03, 2013

Will "Oz: The Great and Powerful" be Great and Powerful?

It's 2013, and most Oz fans are now awaiting the release of Oz: The Great and Powerful to be released by Disney in March.

I've noted before that there has yet to be a theatrically released Oz film that was a financial success upon release. This may no longer be the case, as I understand that given the nature of the project, even in a limited run, Dorothy and the Witches of Oz was successful.

The big thing people are saying is, "Hey, didn't Disney do Return to Oz? This is going to be that all over again, I bet."

Return to Oz was the last major Oz film to be released to theaters, and frankly, in the 1980s, a number of notable fantasy films didn't do well. Along with Return to Oz, the now-cult classics The Black Cauldron, Legend and Labyrinth failed to recoup their budgets. Either mis-marketed or just failing to find their audiences, all four of these films are well-enjoyed now.

While Oz has proved a tough sell in the past, I believe this specific film has a bit more riding on it. Frankly, people are now open to fantasy film. In 2001, we had The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter film series kick off with their first films, Potter ending its series about a year and a half ago, and the first installment of The Lord of the Rings' prequel trilogy The Hobbit now earning a lot at the box office.

We've also had a number of other fantasy films: The Chronicles of Narnia was finally given life on the big screen in what turned out to be a trilogy of films from 2005 to 2010. 2007 brought a feature film version of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, 2009 saw the original The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, 2010 brought the billion-dollar film Alice in Wonderland and 2012 brought two versions of the Snow White tale to the big screen: the blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman and the comedy Mirror Mirror.

That's not to say there haven't been a few bombs. Last year, Disney had a failure with an adaptation of the John Carter of Mars, and New Line Cinema's film Inkheart wasn't such a big success.

However, with the marketing push, the familiarity of Oz to audiences, and some recognizable cast members, I think Oz: The Great and Powerful has a great shot at breaking the cycle of Ozzy box office bombs.

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