'Oz the Great and Powerful' and Other Oz Remakes and Spinoffs

PHOTO: Rachel Weisz is the witch, Evanora, in "Oz the Great and Powerful."
Disney

This Friday, a prequel to the "Wizard of Oz," "Oz the Great and Powerful," hits theaters 74 years after the original film. But it's not the first adaptation of the classic tale by L. Frank Baum.

In the prequel being released by Disney, parent company of ABC News, James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician who gets thrown into the vibrant land of Oz by way of a tornado in Kansas.

Diggs is not as lucky as he thinks when he meets three witches, played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, who are not convinced that Diggs eventually will become the wizard.

In this magical land, Diggs encounters good and evil. Through the journey, he learns to become a good man, but he must determine good from evil in order to transform himself into the powerful Wizard of Oz seen in the original "Wizard of Oz" tale.

"When I first read the script, I really responded to the fact that it had a good heart at its center," Williams told " Good Morning America" last month. "Its sense of humor wasn't sarcastic or mean, and I thought it was really something that my daughter could see and her friends would enjoy."

Franco spoke about the spin on the classic to KABC.

"People do have an idea of Oz," he said. "There are things that they want from Oz. So the yellow brick road, the emerald city, flying monkeys, witches. These are things that people expect, and if they weren't there it wouldn't quite feel like Oz."

But early reviews of the film have found something missing.

"'Oz the Great and Powerful' plays with the notion of making people believe through spectacle and trickery -- that what you see is more important than what you actually get," the Associated Press film review said. "It's Oz's bread and butter and it's a primary tenet of the moviemaking process itself, of course. But this time, something is missing in the magic."

In preparation of the film's debut Friday, click through to take a look back at the Oz creations that came before.

PHOTO: The original "The Wizard of Oz" starring Judy Garland in 1939.
Getty Images
1939's 'The Wizard of Oz'

No matter how many times "The Wizard of Oz" has been done and redone, none of the versions quite capture the magic of the original starring Judy Garland as Dorothy.

The classic tale is based on L. Frank Baum's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The story follows Dorothy as she's swept up by a twister with her dog, Toto, and sent to a magical land. Dorothy and Toto, along with a tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion follow the yellow brick road to the land of Oz to meet the wizard who can send Dorothy home to Kansas.

The film was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, and took home the statue for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the wildly popular "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

In 1989, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry and deemed "culturally, historically or esthetically important."

The film became a cultural phenomenon with the quote, "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," becoming one of the most recognized film quotes of all time.

Dorothy's ruby red slippers were also an iconic part of the film. Although the slippers were not in the original novel, they were added to the film to show off the new abilities of Technicolor.

In February 2012, actor Leonardo DiCaprio opened his wallet to help the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquire the ruby shoes. The slippers will eventually be displayed at the forthcoming Academy Museum in Los Angeles.

SEE MORE: Leonardo DiCaprio Buys 'Wizard of Oz' Slippers for Oscar Academy

Last November, the iconic blue dress worn by Garland in the film sold for a cool $480,000 at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif.

PHOTO: Disney's "Return To Oz," 1985.
Disney
1985's 'Return to Oz'

"Return to Oz," a partial sequel to "The Wizard of Oz," was based on L. Frank Baum's second and third Oz books, "The Marvelous Land of Oz" and "Ozma of Oz." The film starred Fairuza Balk as Dorothy.

In the film, after returning home from Oz, Dorothy becomes depressed because of her obsession with her memories of the magical city. Aunt Em decides shock therapy is the answer for young Dorothy but when the hospital loses power, Dorothy is rescued by a mystery girl who helps her escape.

Dorothy wakes up in Oz but it is not the Oz she remembers. The yellow brick road is crumbled, Emerald City ruined and the Tin Man turned to stone. Dorothy, along with her new friends, who include a talking chicken and a tin soldier, battle a new witch and the Nome King to restore the land.

The film got mixed reviews from critics and performed poorly at the box office. One of the biggest criticisms was that the film was too dark for children. But the film had incredible production design and scored an Oscar nomination for Visual Effects.

At the premiere of the film, a then-11-year-old Balk told Entertainment Tonight she was sick of being compared to the original Dorothy, Judy Garland.

"She did a wonderful movie, and now I'm doing a wonderful movie, and sometimes it's probably hard for people that have grown up with 'The Wizard of Oz' to adjust to a new movie. I mean, not everybody's going to like it," she said.

PHOTO: The cast of "The Wiz" left to right, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Diana Ross and Ted Ross pose for a publicity shot in 1978 in New York.
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
1978's 'The Wiz'

"The Wiz," the film version of the popular Broadway musical that retells the events of L. Frank Baum's classic novel, starred Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. The 1978 film gave an urban twist to the cult classic, but it was also a blockbuster flop.

Ross insisted on playing Dorothy even though she was too old for the role. Instead of a girl from Kansas, Dorothy is a kindergarten teacher from Harlem in New York City who has never been south of 125th Street. The land of Oz is 1970s Manhattan and Dorothy's journey makes stops at the public library and the Brooklyn Bridge, among other landmarks, with World Trade Center Plaza posing as Emerald City.

The film failed to make a profit at the box office but did score four Oscar nominations. "The Wiz" has also been criticized for steering Hollywood studios away from all-black casts during that time period.

"Whatever fun this funked-up 'Wizard of Oz' had on Broadway is erased by miscasting and a hideous design [Oz as a New York slum]," Entertainment Weekly said in a review of the film, rating it a D minus. "Diana Ross' Dorothy is an emotional basket case; Michael Jackson has none of the Scarecrow's requisite aw-shucks charm."

Even director Sidney Lumet saw the film as a flop.

"''It was a disaster. I had this idea that a great fantasy could be made out of New York -- that I could make Oz out of reality. We could have the lion statue in front of the New York Public Library come to life and turn into the Cowardly Lion and things like that. But that didn't happen because I didn't know enough technically," Lumet told EW.

PHOTO: From left, actors Alli Mauzey, Willemijn Verkaik and Kyle Dean Massey take a bow in "Wicked" on Broadway at Gershwin Theatre, Feb. 12, 2013 in New York.
Charles Eshelman/Getty Images
'Wicked'

In 1995, Gregory Maguire wrote a "Wizard of Oz" prequel, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West." The novel was then turned into one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time, "Wicked."

The novel and musical are told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West and follow her untold story along with her unlikely friend, Glinda the Good, before Dorothy arrives in Oz. The plot tells the substantial moments in Elphaba's life that made her become "wicked."

Idina Menzel starred as Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth played Glinda the Good when the musical debuted on Broadway in 2003. The original production won three Tony Awards, including one for Menzel for Best Actress, and the cast's album won a Grammy award.

"Wicked works because it has something Broadway musicals, so addicted to facetiousness and camp, have largely given up on: a story that adults can take seriously," Richard Zoglin of Time magazine said in a review of the musical after it debuted.

The musical was so popular that it earned back its $14 million investment in just 14 months, a feat that can take other shows years to accomplish. The show started a national tour in 2005 and has since had a series of international productions, as well.

The last week of 2012, "Wicked" set a new Broadway record for the highest one-week gross, with a box office take of $2,947,172.

"It holds a lot of themes that are important to us as humans. It's about acceptance, it's about friendship, and it's about forgiveness, more than anything, and love," Chenoweth told Gay Star News. "They're all the most important things in life. I think whether you're a truck driver or a gay man or woman or a child or an elderly, I just think it reaches the masses. It's also an unlikely friendship, and I think the real love story is between the women. We hadn't seen it before, and that's why it's resonates."

The musical is reportedly following in the footsteps of other Broadway musicals "Mamma Mia," "Hairspray" and "The Phantom of the Opera," and in the works to be made into a film.

"I feel thrilled, I want that movie to be made. I want more people who can't afford a Broadway ticket to go and see the story. It depends on how it's done obviously, as I want it to be done great," Chenoweth said. "People always say, well wouldn't you play Glinda? You know, it's been 10 years since I played that role. If they keep on at this pace I'll be playing Madame Morrible. They should hurry up!"

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