Sam Raimi shared an exclusive teaser (see below) of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and welcomed two of the stars, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, to join him and moderator Chris Hardwick (nerdist.com) on the Hall H stage. Raimi explains the prequel follows the Wizard (James Franco) before he was the “great and powerful” Wizard we know him to be in the 1939 classic film. Like the Judy Garland classic, the prequel is based on L. Frank Baum’s novel but takes off in an entirely fictional narrative about the wizard’s beginnings. By the end of the film, Raimi says, “the audience has one interpretation of how [the Wizard of Oz] came to be.”
In the film, the Wizards goes from being a carnival magician and “selfish lothario” to being a more selfless expression of his talents in Oz. “It’s a land of second chances for him,” says Raimi. The character starts off in Kansas, lacking in social skills and human graces, until he gets kicked out and escapes in a balloon that gets caught in a tornado and taken off to Oz. “He has a good heart, he’s just not in touch with it,” says Raimi. He becomes a better man and magician.
Raimi says the film “nods lovingly towards the 1939 classic film,” says Raimi, but did not have any rights to use such iconic images as the Ruby Slippers — and because it is an origin tale, it does not include Dorothy or her companions, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion. The focus is entirely on the Wizard, the witches Glenda (Williams), Theodora (Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and the Emerald city, and Raimi says with the help of production designer Robert Stromberg (who is making his directorial debut with Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent”) created “a completely original world, something the audience has never seen before.” Except of course the audience has seen and imagined much of it before; the trailer is an obvious nod to the imagery already associated with Baum’s words — taken in a shinier, more 3-D friendly direction.
The 3-D footage shown (2-D for y’all below) was CQ-heavy and very colorful, a la “Snow White and the Huntsman”‘s daisies-and-fairies-and-creatures-oh-my segment. The Wizard’s journey begins in black in white, until he arrives in the very green Emerald City. It “looks pants-crappingly good,” says Hardwicke. Well, that’s one way to put it.
Actual sets were used, Kunis says, who was expecting greenscreens when the project began. But, she says, “It was magical going to work.” Walking into Glenda’s castle was “one of the more magical experiences of my life,” she adds, excited to see how the sets translate to the big screen. We shall see March 8, 2012.