- OZ: THE GREAT AND THE POWERFUL
Disney pulled back the curtain at D23 Saturday to reveal Oz The Great and Powerful, a prequel to Wizard of Oz that just recently began filming in Michigan. Although neither director Sam Raimi nor his cast -- which includes James Franco as the title character -- could make it there, the filmmaker did send along an EPK-style sizzle reel featurette to take D23 attendees behind the scenes of his new movie.
The featurette showcased concept art of Raimi's Oz, which the filmmaker insists is closer to author L. Frank Baum's original description of the fantasy land than past film incarnations have been. If you can imagine a realm somewhere between Tim Burton's Wonderland, Avatar's Pandora and the Irish countryside, you have a good idea of what's in store.
Another piece of concept art -- this one used as the key art for the film at the Expo -- was a vista of a dusty-colored Kansas sky with a hot air balloon floating near a farmhouse and windmill as a cyclone twists ever closer to them. It was a striking image and helped set the tone and look of the movie.
The featurette showed off the lavish late 19th century costumes worn by Franco and his cast mates (even Raimi, known for wearing his signature black suits on set, was sporting a period-appropriate black tie). We saw Raimi and Co. shooting scenes inside the circus tent where Franco's charlatan magician Oscar Diggs works. The featurette also included brief chats with Oz's "witches" Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Weisz (Evanora) and Michelle Williams (Glinda), as well as Zach Braff, who plays Oscar's assistant Finlay.
While it was tough to get a read on the overall quality of Oz The Great and Powerful, the featurette certainly whet the appetite of this reporter to see more of what Sam Raimi and Co. have in store when the film opens in 3D on March 8, 2013.