Horror version of The Wizard of Oz in the works

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer
1939’s original ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (credit: MGM)

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore… and I don’t think we’re in U-rated territory either.

New Line Cinema have announced plans to take us back to the wonderful world of Oz, but rather than the family-friendly films of years gone by, this one will be a horror movie. (As if ‘Return to Oz’ wasn’t terrifying enough already…)

According to Variety, the subdivision of Warner Bros has purchased “an untitled pitch by screenwriter Mike Van Waes.” It should also be stressed the project is not strictly speaking a remake of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ but “an original story set in the iconic world of L. Frank Baum’s novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.'”

Though unproduced at present, Van Waes has a number of projects in development, including his original screenplays for fantasy ‘Hammerspace’ and animated movie ‘Peeves.’

MGM’s 1939 classic is of course one of the best-loved movies of all time, and numerous more films have been set in the world of Oz, including 1978 musical ‘The Wiz’ and 2013 prequel ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’

Whilst the idea of an Oz horror movie may seem a bit odd at first glance, it has been remarked that 1985’s astonishingly sinister sequel ‘Return To Oz’ was in fact far closer in spirit to L Frank Baum’s books than the 1939 original. As such, there may well be ample scope for this new film to get even creepier without necessarily betraying the spirit of the original. In any case, horror movies based around fairy tales are hardly unheard of: think of such greats as ‘The Company of Wolves,’ ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and more recently ‘Tale of Tales.’

A typical moment from ‘Return To Oz’ (credit: Disney)

This announcement also underlines how New Line (informally known as ‘The House that Freddy Built’ thanks to the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ series) are making horror a serious priority once again. The studio have already had some notable genre hits in recent years with ‘The Conjuring’ movies and their spin-off ‘Annabelle,’ both of which have sequels coming. They have another major horror event movie due in September, in the long-awaited big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It.’

No potential release dates have been announced for this as-yet untitled Oz movie, as it’s still very early in development.

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