Warner Bros. Visits McFarlane’s Oz

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures have announced plans to visit a darker version of author L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, one based on a line of toys designed by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. Curiously enough, Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were planning a similar project based on American McGee’s twisted Oz toys, which McGee was tapped to script in 2004.

Warner Bros.’ trip down the yellow brick road is being written by Josh Olson (A History of Violence). Olson’s script will reportedly provide a tamer version of the edgy world presented in McFarlane’s Twisted Land of Oz action figures, which offer a bondage-chic version of Dorothy. The film will follow more along the lines of the Harry Potter saga.

“My pitch was ‘How do we get people who went to Lord of the Rings to embrace this?” say McFarlane. “I want to create [an interpretation] that has a 2007 ‘wow’ factor. You’ve still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place, but she’s much closer to Ripley from Alien than a helpless, singing girl.”

McFarlane will produce the pic with Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk, while Rick Benattar (Shoot ‘Em Up) serves as exec producer. Fans are encouraged to keep checking www.spawn.com for more details as they become available.

If Disney and Bruckheimer move forward with McGee’s vision of Oz, we could see quite a showdown between the two studios. At any rate, we’ll be seeing a whole of ruby slipper clicking over the next couple years. In December, SCI FI Channel will premiere its six-hour miniseries Tin Man, a futuristic version of Oz, and Alpine Pictures Inc. is producing a feature-length animated musical titled Dorothy of Oz in association with Box Office Prods. The toon will be the first in a series of animated features based on the writings Baum’s great grandson, children’s author Roger S. Baum.