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Feature Film

“Dorothy of Oz” concept art

The Hollywood Reporter has posted some of Seth Engstrom’s (Avatar, Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland) spectacular concept art from Summertime Entertainment’s forthcoming animated musical, Dorothy of Oz. The film’s all-star cast had already been announced – it includes Lea Michele (Glee) as Dorothy, Dan Aykroyd (Yogi Bear as The Scarecrow), Kelsey Grammer (The Tin Man), and Jim Belushi (The Lion). They’re saying the film will be released April 2012, but no distributor is attached. Is it in production? If so, where? What studio? We know it was developed at Ken Duncan’s Duncan Studios in Pasadena and that Dan St. Pierre (Everybody’s Hero) is aboard to direct. If any of our readers have the scoop, we’d love to hear more about it.

  • Justin M. Durden

    To be honest, I can’t see Dan Aykroyd as the scarecrow.

  • Lea Michele as Dorothy? Aw hell no…

    • mook

      if Judy Garland’s memory couldn’t be damaged enough…

  • BT

    I like the pictures. I fear the original songs by Bryan Adams.

  • The concept art looks great but they are seriously fighting an uphill battle considering how fantastic the original Wizard of Oz is. I understand that isn’t the most faithful adaption of the Oz material but it’s such a classic, I don’t see how Jim Belushi can come anywhere close to competing with Bert Lahr.

    But I’ll certainly check it out!

  • The BG’s are great. Characters – I don’t know.
    It’ll be a wait and see for me.

  • Stephen

    There was a book entitled Dorothy of Oz by Roger Baum. Is that the source material for this?
    There are plenty of Oz books that could be adapted.

  • PeteR

    Where’s the “concept?”. All I see is the usual visual effects rendering (they all look the same). Where are the CONCEPTs and IDEAS?

  • Sarah

    The casting for this sucks. Seriously Kelsey “Sideshow Bob” Grammar and Jim Belushi? Not to mention Martin Short (no offense to anybody that’s a fan of him, but to me he’s very annoying. It’s bad enough he stinks as the Mad Hatter).

    At least Return to Oz got it right (except for the Ruby Slipper part).

  • diego

    No, I don’t like it. I like the casting though, but not really for animation.

  • Is this animated, or an amalgam like Burton’s Alice?

    • The Gee

      Based on the slideshow, it looks like it is animated. The page also mentions that it is animated and that’s where the actors are just doing VO, not appearing in it.

      I’ve never read the books. So, I am pretty open to whatever they throw out there. The musical part doesn’t intrigue me but I seem to recall liking “The Wiz.” I’m sure this will be totally different from that though.

  • Baron Lego

    Wait- it’s a musical? Bleh.

  • Not impressed. None of those quote unquote characters have any personality. Sure, the Scarecrow has a scarecrow head, but is he stuffed with straw? is he flopsy? is he a man of little brain? I have all the new Oz I need–Scottie Young’s comics!

  • Scarabim

    I don’t like the character designs. Why don’t people who want to animated Oz use the character designs created by the first book’s illustrator – W.W. Denslow? They were the definitive designs used by MGM and they have never been bested. Check these examples out:

  • When I first heard about this, and looked at the art, I was confused, because the title I thought they were adapting was one of the darkest and scariest of the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum. It’s a shame such a talented team has only a story by a grandson, who shares only a name with his talented grandfather.

    For a glimpse of what could be done with the original Oz material, take a look at the Eisner Award winning adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and also at “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” from Marvel Illustrated (“Ozma of Oz” is underway). Eric Shanower faithfully adapted L. Frank Baum’s original Oz story and its sequel, which have been lovingly and lavishly illustrated by Skottie Young.

  • @Scarabim, Denslow helped define the state of the art in children’s book illustration, but he and Baum soon parted ways creatively. The MGM musical drew not only on Denslow’s inspiration, but that of John R. Neill, whose illustrations grace dozens of Oz books:

    • Scarabim

      No offense, but I can’t stand Neill’s work. It’s vastly inferior to Denslow’s, in my opinion. It looks like generic magazine art of the period, whereas Denslow’s has a personality and humor Neill’s can’t begin to match. (Also, Neill got very sloppy at times). I have an original piece of Denslow art hanging on my wall. I paid several hundred dollars for it. I wouldn’t give a nickel for anything from Neill. JMHO.

      • You’re right, Neill’s work was quite uneven, and he phoned it in from time to time, but you can learn a lot from watching how many approaches he took to designing the Oz books. I treasure my first edition of his “Emerald City of Oz,” with its metallic inks, beautiful female heroines, and grotesque creatures. There are few illustrators who could work in that generic magazine style today. I’ve got just about as little interest in Denslow as you have in Neill. “In matters of taste, there can be no dispute.” There are fans of the books who can’t relate to Baum, preferring Ruth Plumly Thompson, the author who picked up the series after Baum’s death, and who wrote close to two dozen Oz titles of her own. Baum was blessed with strong illustrators, which include some of the earliest work of Maxfield Parrish. It was a fine era for illustration.

    • koramae

      I never heard of the MGM musical using any of Neill’s art as inspiration for their designs–just Denslow’s.
      Where did you read that?

  • This looks terrible. It really does. When I looked at the “concept art” it looked more like moderately well done video game cutscene graphics. And I really do agree with everyone above me that remakes of the old Wizard of Oz should be discouraged as the old movie got it so right the first time…why even try to compete? Do something new!

    However…I think its plain to see Hollywood will never adapt the old material because its very dark and sometimes a little hard to understand which means the audience might have to think about things.

    The Marvelous Land of Oz is about a boy who at the end of the story becomes a little girl after finding out he was actually a girl inside the whole time. Can you imagine the media shitstorm that would follow putting a story like that to film?

    Baum’s stories are beautiful and deserve to be read but I doubt that they will ever be given justice in film.Its about as likely to happen as a Cinderella movie where the sisters cut off their toes and heels to fit into the shoe or the true to life Little Mermaid where she dies at the end princeless and mute.

  • qwerty

    I’m worried about the Glee casting. Whenever I’ve heard songs from Glee, they’ve been auto-tuned to death. When the Glee cast appeared on the Simpsons, the singing was so horribly monotone that I had to leave the room.

  • Angry Anim

    Wow, what an amazingly sucky cast. Did we suddenly warp back to 1985? Too bad… the concept art is really strong and promising.

  • Walt Disney developed a sequel called, “Rainbow Road to Oz” back in the sixties. The development art was fantastic. I saw a good deal of it up on the third floor of the Animation Building.

    Not happy with the film story, the Old Man eventually scrapped the project. When things didn’t work, Walt refused to beat a dead horse. He knew when to call it quits. Few people do these days.

  • michael

    I don’t understand all the complaints. Most of the Oz canon has been in the public domain for years now. Don’t like what you’re seeing? Have a great idea of your own? Then do it, yo.

  • Ben

    Not that I don’t think an OZ story isn’t a good one…there is a LOT of material to choose from. However, I worry when any productions touts the celebrity voice talent before the story or animation. It’s not a good sign, in my book.

    I’m more interested in seeing the film adaptation of Wicked, and the upcoming Disney Robert Downey Jr. “wizard” origin story more than this animated sequel.

  • @Floyd, “When things didn’t work, Walt refused to beat a dead horse. He knew when to call it quits.”

    The episode of the Disneyland TV show in which Annette played Ozma, showed a bit of what might have been. I’ll bet the closest Disney would have gotten at the time showed up in his production of “Babes in Toyland,” which was created originally in 1903 in order to cash in on the success of the stage production of “The Wizard of Oz,” even with some overlap in creative personnel.

    Disney also knew how to hoard the rights to the Baum books that he’d purchased from the Baum Family Trust in the 1950’s, and sit on them, preventing anybody else from developing the property. Film editing deity Walter Murch did a highly personal job in the 1980’s for Disney with “Return to Oz,” just as the rights to all of Baum’s work was passing into the public domain. He came up with an interesting way to bypass the transgender issues raised by Marvelous Land, creating a brutally horrifying first act, in which Dorothy is dumped at the electro-shock therapist because she won’t shut up about Oz.

    @michael, @Killskerry, “These things must be done delicately.”

  • Looks overly garrish to me. The image above looks like Scooby Doo colours turned to blinding levels. One green, one purple, no variation allowed! I know Oz is supposed to be colourful, but that doesn’t mean pick a few colours and turn up the saturation.

    This is concept art? most art-of books are far more appealing than the resultant films. I hope this one reverses that assumption.

  • jarable

    It’s 106 miles to Emerald City, we got a dog, a lion, a scarecrow and a robot, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
    Hit It

  • Caresse

    What bugs me the most is that the smoke and fire look like cheap stock effects badly composited into the image.

    Everything else has some potential.

    And the floor is WAY too shiny. And if it’s going to be so super shiny, uhm, where the hell are the light reflections that should be there to lend credibility to the fire?!?!?

  • Having worked on one movie version of an Oz book, I’m of the opinion that you can’t do an Oz film without Judy Garland, even if you are doing one of the books that doesn’t have any Dorothy in it. The MGM movie defines a genre with room, in the audience’s mind, for only films exactly like it.

    The original Baum books are full of interesting situations but need major surgery to become screenplays such as audiences are accustomed to today.

    None-the-less I like the look of what this crew has got going. Good luck!

  • marbpl

    Stephan, as far as I know the film is based on Roger Baum’s 1989 book DOROTHY OF OZ.

  • David Breneman

    Waitaminit— Aykroyd is playing Yogi Bear playing the Scarecrow?!

  • Rodan

    okay… a slight recasting of Dorothy’s entorage.

    SCARECROW: Allan Cummings
    Tin Man: Craig Furguson
    Lion: Daren Carter

    The ones named in your article would so eclipse the initial buzz of this potentially blockbuster project.

  • nick

    the movie is being done in India

  • Mindy McReady

    I am very excited to see this, especially with it being in 3D. The art is beautiful and the cast seems like it well fit perfectly with the characters. I love that they have Martin Short as the Jester! He’s fabulous, know him from TV series Damages and thought he did a good job. Know its quite different from that, but sure he’ll be great!

  • kat

    This feature is under production at Prana Studios in India, the same studio responsible for the Tinkerbell movies.