There’s a new adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on the way.
On board to direct New Line’s new feature adaptation is Nicole Kassell, whose many credits include three episodes of HBO’s 2019 Watchmen series (including the pilot episode), an episode of Westworld, three episodes of The Americans, and her feature debut, the powerful Kevin Bacon-starring 2004 drama The Woodsman.
There’s no word on who’s writing a new draft – assuming the script is getting a new pass. Previous drafts were penned by Darren Lemke (Goosebumps, Shazam!) and duo Neil Widener and Gavin James (who are attached to the planned Now You See Me threequel).
Deadline broke the news, reporting that it was Kassell’s work helping craft the world of HBO’s Watchmen – setting up a good amount of style and tone with the pilot – that earned her the job. New Line has reportedly been on an extensive search for the right filmmaker.
“I am incredibly honoured to join [production company] Temple Hill and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen,” Kassell said in a statement.
“While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale. The opportunity to examine the original themes — the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever. These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road.”
Many will of course hold a special place for the 1939 Judy Garland-starring adaptation, but Baum’s Oz books (he wrote 14 and there are 26 further canonical books) were adapted a number of times before and have many times since, including a 15-minute silent film from 1910, all the way through to Disney’s 2013 spiritual prequel, Oz the Great and Powerful.