If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Well, that didn't take long. On the day Disney's 'Oz The Great and Powerful' is to be released (i.e. today), word has come down that the studio is already in the midst of developing a sequel. The first installment, directed by Sam Raimi, stars James Franco as the iconic magician who film-flams his way into a place of prominence in The Emerald City. It is of course a prequel to 'The Wizard of Oz.' Disney has already tapped 'Oz The Great and Powerful' screenwriter Mitchell Kapner to get to work on the next installment. The word is that Kapner is free to use any material from L. Frank Baum's series of Oz novels, as they are public domain, but he is not permitted to use any of the creative additions to canon from the 1939 'Wizard of Oz.' Warner Brothers still owns the rights to things like the ruby slippers for example. At this point, no release date has been discussed.
This sequel was inevitable, but not entirely unwelcome. I really liked 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' in fact far more than I thought I would. It was charming, funny, and really strove to create a spectacle worthy of the classic 1939 film. I also liked, and this is a direct testament to the writing of Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, the way that references to the original film/books were naturally worked into the script so that it didn't feel like constant winking and nodding. I won't spoil anything to that regard, as the film comes out today, but I will simply encourage you, as you watch it, to keep your eyes on the background action. I'm not really concerned that they are limited to material from the books, as there is so much as yet unexplored from the written source material. Disney, like all studios, is putting an emphasis on franchises, on properties than can be expanded and continued. It seems a bit presumptuous however, and a precarious business model, to greenlight a sequel to a film before they've even seen the box office grosses for the first. But Disney is not the first to jump the gun like this, and they are aided by the fact that few properties have the widespread, instant name recognition as does Oz. Now of course the question becomes whether Raimi will return to direct, and who among the 'Great and Powerful' cast might be reprising their roles.
What do you guys think? Is it too soon to put an 'Oz The Great and Powerful' sequel in the works? Will you be seeing the movie this weekend?