Nearly a full century after its release, the 1939 musical version of The Wizard of Oz remains a timeless piece of cinema. Few (if any) subsequent adaptations have managed to captivate audiences the way Judy Garland and her co-stars did all those years ago. Regardless, New Line is about to roll the dice on yet another big-screen translation of L. Frank Baum’s original fantasy novel. According to Deadline, the studio has brought director Nicole Kassell onboard to put her own stamp on the classic story.
Kassell made a big splash in late 2019 when she directed three episodes of HBO’s Watchmen, including the pilot. She has also helmed episodes of Westworld, The Leftovers, Better Call Saul, and The Killing. Kassell made her feature directorial debut in 2004 with The Woodsman, which she also co-wrote.
Apparently, Kassell’s hiring is the culmination of an “extensive search” by New Line to find a director for the project. The studio was reportedly impressed by Kassell’s capability as a “meticulous world-builder” on Watchmen. Deadline also singled out her “ability to adapt challenging material.”
News of a remake probably won’t sit well with fans of the original film. Kassell’s project is a “fresh take” on the source material. Baum’s novel has been in the public domain since 1956. Because of this, literally any studio can make their own movie set in the Land of Oz. But since New Line is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. (who own the rights to the 1939 version), their film can use elements that other studios can’t. These include Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers. Darren Lemke and the duo of Neil Widener and Gavin James wrote earlier drafts of the new movie’s script, but it’s not clear if these are still in play.
“I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen,” said Kassell 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.”
New Line hasn’t set a release date for their Wizard of Oz movie.
Do you think Kassell is a good choice to direct the film? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
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