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March 8, 2013

Disney bets audiences are ready to return

(Continued)

“If you really wanted to analyze the original ‘Oz,’ it’s big backing painted with gumdrop hills. There’s a really fabricated feel to everything. My question is ‘Why is this any different?’”

Raimi draws a parallel to a story told about MGM’s movie, which was the most expensive the studio had made to that point — to the extent it had to hook up special generators to provide additional power to the back lot. This production, meanwhile, had to receive special ordinances from the city of Detroit to supply sufficient power to its set.

Oz, quite literally, could cause a blackout.

You probably remember the first time you saw “The Wizard of Oz.” You may even recall its catchphrases making their way into your subconscious — the friend who said a girl was like the tin man (“no heart”) or when someone acknowledged that a mushrooming group was becoming a little like Dorothy and her friends. Baum’s creations are a permission slip to be sentimental, made paradoxically more relevant, or at least desirable, in this modern age of irony.

But Baum’s creations also allow for other versions of Oz.

As the movie opens — with strong tracking among most demographics, it’s looking likely “Oz” will be a hit — Amazon’s publishing division is releasing the well-timed “Oz Reimagined,” in which genre writers like Orson Scott Card and Tad Williams offer their own fictional stories based on Baum elements. There are several other movies in the Hollywood pipeline, including a brooding tale from “A History of Violence” screenwriter Josh Olson that imagines Dorothy’s return to an evil-riddled Oz. Warner Bros. is developing a dark cable series called “Red Brick Road” that also picks up after the events of “The Wizard of Oz” novel.

Meanwhile, this week the L.A. art series “Creature Features” is opening an exhibit called “Visions of Oz,” in which more than a dozen artists put their own spin on the Emerald City. There are classic N.C. Wyeth-esque works, but also darker fare, such as a painting of violent images popping out of Dorothy’s head.

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