This week, I got to interview Ryan Carroll, the producer of the upcoming 3-D animated musical Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, which was originally announced under the working title Dorothy of Oz, and is based on the book of the same name by Roger Stanton Baum.
You and your team have been working on this film for several years now. What do you think the biggest challenge has been?
Yes, the animation process definitely takes some time! It's been very interesting and educational for us to learn all about the detail involved in the production process for animation, under the direction of Bonne Radford, Dan St. Pierre and Will Finn, who are some of the industry's top experts in this medium. We've spent a lot of time in the story process, making sure that the story is working well before we fully animate the characters and add all the special effects. I would say the biggest challenge with an Oz film like this is making sure we stay true to the wonderful source material of the Baum family (both L. Frank and Roger Stanton), while making sure to update the story and look of film for a modern audience. Seeing the film near completion, I think we've done a great job with that balance.You recently signed a distribution deal with Clarius Entertainment. How many theaters do you expect the movie will be shown in?
We're thrilled about our partnership with Clarius. We don't know the exact number of theaters yet, but Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return will have a very wide release in the majority of theaters around the country, much like the other big studio animated films released each year.Have you seen Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful or any other recent Oz-inspired films? What do you think will make Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return unique?
Oz the Great and Powerful is a great and entertaining adaptation, and we were excited to see it do so well in the box office because it proves how many people love Oz, possibly now more than ever. I think what makes our film unique is that it plays very well to a young audience, and certainly the musical component. Music has always been a strong link with Oz projects and we felt it was important that this one contained lots of great new songs too.Can you elaborate a bit more on the music and songs? How many songs are in the film?
The songs in our film are a pivotal part of the story, as they both introduce the new characters, and help carry the characters through their adventure. We couldn't have asked for a better musical crew, combining the extreme experience and talents of Bryan, Tift, Jim Dooley, Jim Vallance and Mike Himmelstein. Added to that, we have some of the best vocal talents in the industry right now, such as Lea Michele (Dorothy), Megan Hilty (China Princess) and Martin Short (the Jester). All of them helped bring these already wonderful new songs to a new level. There are a total of seven brand new songs in the film, and a couple more in the end credits.This film is based on Dorothy of Oz by Roger Stanton Baum. How has he been involved in the process?
Roger's been a great partner on the film, and we feel lucky to have him as a great resource for all things Oz. We have consulted with him throughout the process, and we had a lot of fun including him on our panel with Patrick Stewart and Megan Hilty at the 2011 Comic-Con. He and his wife Charlene are a joy to work with in every way.Should Oz fans expect to see quite a bit of merchandise from this film?
Yes, there will be something for everyone with the licensing and merchandising. We'll be rolling out a whole program with major world-wide retailers leading up to the film's release, so watch for some great items coming to a store near you later this year and early next!What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Is it true that there are already plans for sequels?There is a great, timely message in our film, which is how important it is to team together especially in times of community need. I hope that audiences young and old will understand this message and be able to relate it to a lot of the things going on in the world today. I also hope that our project will help further propel the popularity and magic of Oz to a new, younger generation.
Roger has written a whole series of books and we do plan on turning these into films as well. It's one of the reasons we changed the title to Legends of Oz, so that we can eventually unveil a lot of various projects, in various mediums and formats.Is there anything you'd like to say to fans who have been supporting the film for several years now?
Thank you to Ryan for taking the time to do this interview!I would like to thank them all for their ongoing support, as we've worked hard on making the film the best it possibly can be! We know it will be worth the wait for everyone.