Oh, I see. Legends of Oz was a flop because of a vast Hollywood conspiracy to take it down.
“Here’s to the failure of another movie promoting those Magic Belt thieves!”
You know how I know that isn’t true? Because the only reason I’ve come across any publicity at all about the movie, good OR bad, is because I’m subscribed to several Oz forums. I think I might have seen a television spot or two, but the animation isn’t that great and the Oz name isn’t going to draw in the general public, so who cares? While I thought the film was pretty cute, I pretty much figured it was going to be a box office flop. And that puts me back onto a topic that comes up from time to time in Oz discussions, which is whether we can ever have a successful Oz movie. I think Oz the Great and Powerful made a decent showing, but didn’t do as well as anticipated. I didn’t hate that movie, but when the producer says the project attracted him because it had a male protagonist, it’s obvious he didn’t really get Oz. Not that there’s any one right way to appreciate Oz, mind you, but I would say the fact that it’s dominated by female protagonists is pretty central to the whole thing. What I think is weird is that nobody has even attempted adapting one of the original Oz books in years. Not for theatrical release, anyway.
Great and Powerful contained practically nothing from the books, and Legends used a mediocre book from the late eighties as its source material. They did both use the China Country, but this was likely a coincidence.
Maybe the huge success of the MGM film has made it so that any other Oz movie will be unfavorably compared to it. Get too close to it and it’s a cheap rip-off. Deviate too much and the public will think it isn’t Oz. Still, it seems that they’re not really trying. Return to Oz was a box office flop, but: 1) it’s received a lot more appreciation since then, and 2) that was almost thirty years ago. After all this time, are the actual L. Frank Baum books still considered box office poisoned poppies?
It does seem like, even when a film isn’t a blatant MGM homage like Great and Powerful, it has to contain MGM references. Not necessarily a problem in and of itself, but when you have something like Return using the Ruby Slippers but also having Dorothy remember things from the book that weren’t in the 1939 film, like the Deadly Desert and the Tin Woodman’s origin story, it does get a little confusing. Is it a sequel to the MGM movie, the book, or neither? And Legends didn’t use Ozma, even though she was in the source material. It’s tricky, because I don’t really want to see a rehash of the same old material, yet plot points from the early books are important to developments in later ones. Of course, it would certainly be possible to adapt a later book while leaving out anything that contradicts the MGM version of the story or that people who only know the movie wouldn’t know about, which I guess would include Ozma. For my part, though, I think it might be time to do something a little more faithful to the books. I mean, wasn’t that the direction they went in with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, at least at first? Why not try it with Oz? Maybe the LotR films are a good model in a way, since they started with a retelling of The Hobbit that hit all the plot points relevant to the story being told. If they did something like this with Oz, it could cover things like Ozma’s ascension to the throne, the fact that there are two different Good Witches, and that Oz wasn’t a dream without having to remake Wizard and Land yet again. Then after that they can follow Peter Jackson’s example and do a Wizard remake in three installments that shows what everyone else in Oz is doing at the time of Dorothy’s adventure. I’m kidding about that last part, although in some ways that could be a lot of fun. Was Glinda tracking Dorothy’s deeds in the Great Book of Records before Dorothy actually arrived at her palace? What did the Good Witch of the North do after greeting Dorothy and then disappearing? Did Mombi, who would have been raising Tip at this point, have any thoughts on the deaths of her compatriots? Did Dr. Pipt first perfect the Powder of Life around this time? What about the mysterious King of the Munchkins who appears in Ozma and Road? Could we see how he took power after the Wicked Witch of the East was crushed to death? Nimmie Amee’s friendship with Ku-Klip and her relationship with Captain Fyter could also come into the picture somehow.