Sacred Cow Watch: 'Wizard of Oz' Prequel May Actually Happen

It's official! There are no sacred cows left in Hollywood. Deadline Hollywood reported yesterday that Spider-Man's Sam Raimi will direct a prequel to 1939's iconic The Wizard of Oz, and that Robert Downey Jr. will maybe/probably star.

If you want to assign blame for this travesty, blame the worldwide success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland—that other gaudily Technicolored, turn-of-the-last-century tale—which is so far the most successful movie of 2010, with $334 million in domestic receipts. (Toy Story 3, out Friday, looks to unseat it.) The requisite colon in title is atoned for in the Wizard prequel—its working name is Oz: The Great and Powerful. Look for it in 2013. (And for another Oz movie, Glee's Lea Michele is confirmed to be the voice of Dorothy in this animated version.)

The urge to turn one of cinema's all-time-greatest movies in a gleaming Disney franchise somewhat smacks around this piece from The Hollywood Reporter, which says that sluggish summer movie attendance may indicate we're over sequels. Tell that to the folks behind the just-announced straight-to-DVD Mean Girls sequel, for which there's open casting. If you're "anyone with a funky hairstyle," a "mall rat," or a "Mom [or] Dad type with a Midwest feel," get thee to Atlanta!

For the Oz prequel Walt Disney has in mind, Deadline's Nikke Finke writes, "Downey would play the Wizard of Oz before he became the Wizard of Oz ... he's in fact a circus wrangler transported by tornado to the mysterious world of Oz where he gets mistaken for a know-it-all." Downey hasn't committed to the role yet, and no release date has been set. In the meantime, if you'd like to stay true to the 1939 classic, here is a video of the roundtable NEWSWEEK held with five actors who played original munchkins.