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Warner Bros. to Turn All 15 Oz Books Into Movies 249

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the high-probability-of-sucking dept.
Lucas123 writes "After purchasing the rights to the Oz books from Ted Turner Warner Bros., along with Village Roadshow Pictures, will be taking Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's idea to produce movies based on the Oz books. They've obtained the rights to the 14 titles written by 'The Wizard of Oz' author L. Frank Baum, as well as the the fifteenth book ('The Royal Book of Oz'), written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Screen Writer John Olson's 'vision is of a bit tamer PG movie and hopefully the two can find some middle ground of compromise that will please them both and not hurt the final product.'"
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Warner Bros. to Turn All 15 Oz Books Into Movies

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  • Public Domain (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tidewaterblues (784797) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:34PM (#20323477) Homepage
    Correct me if I am wrong, but all 14 original Oz books and the MGM movie are all public domain. As long as you only base you canon on this material, you can make whatever movie you want, and you don't have to pay anyone a dime. Now, the characters name are another matter. Many of those are still trademarked by various corporations.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You mean like Mickey Mouse, created at least 30 years before hand is in the Public Domain...
    • Seems right... (Score:5, Informative)

      by msauve (701917) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#20323603)
      the Oz books were published between 1900 and 1920. Works published before 1923 [cornell.edu] are in the public domain. (Mickey was born circa 1928).

      Here's my vote that they do Tik-Tok first. My mom had first editions of all the books when I was a kid, that was my favorite.
    • Re:Public Domain (Score:5, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:41PM (#20324025) Homepage Journal
      It's yet another sloppy summary of TFA, which mentions two distinct facts:
      • Warner plans to adapt all 15 books.
             
      • Warner bought the rights to the 1939 movie from Ted Turner. (Actually, they bought Ted Turner's whole media operation, which happened to include his film library, which happened to include this movie. This happened over 10 years ago; it's connection with this announcement isn't clear.)

      The writer of the TFA was a little sloppy, and the submitter was very sloppy, so of course the facts got a bit jumbled. Welcome to Slashdot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pxtl (151020)
        That makes sense. Obviously, they want to be able to reference the changes that were made in the movie since the movie version is what's stuck in the public consciousness. I remember when I saw Wicked, she was confused about the crystal shoes, wondering why they weren't the "ruby slippers" of of the movie - I had to explain that the "ruby slippers" were a feature exclusive to the film version, which the creators of Wicked likely didn't have the rights to. They probably want to be able to avoid that probl
    • Re:Public Domain (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:10PM (#20324305) Homepage
      All of the Oz books published before 1923 are public domain in the US, because every copyright from that period had expired before the Congress started rubber-stamping renewals. Everything L. Frank Baum wrote (at least by himself) has been in the public domain in the EU since the end of 1989 (70 years after he died). Likewise with the original character designs by illustrator W. W. Denslow, who died in 1915. However, the MGM movie (produced in 1939) and everything original that was introduced by it (e.g. "Somewhere....") is very much under copyright in the US and the EU (and probably everywhere else, since most countries follow one or the other model).

      The only thing that could still be "owned" about the original books are the trademark rights, which could be maintained indefinitely if they're continually exercised. I'm pretty sure MGM has done its job in maintaining "The Wizard of Oz" and the distinctive likenesses of Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Bolger, Haley, Lahr, etc. as trademarks, and they're powerful enough to get away with claiming just "Oz" as a trademark if they set their legal will to it.

      The bottom line is that anyone could produce a bunch of movies based on the books without buying the rights from anyone... but they'd have a really dicey time marketing it without running into MGM's trademark enforcement suits.
      • I've seen cheapo DVDs of cartoon versions of The Wizard of Oz and some of the others. I'm assuming these straight-to-video crap versions weren't enough of a threat to make MGM angry, but now if they *did* try to sue over it the fact that they didn't sue over those versions would probably hurt them.
  • How many? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:34PM (#20323479)
    All 15 ounce books? I have no idea how many movies that would be?
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#20323489)
    Weight discrimination again!
  • by fatblunt (656719)
    Why make books that weigh almost one pound into movies?
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#20323497) Homepage Journal
    Is that Hollywood is preparing to shit all over another part of my childhood? 13 times?

    Great.

    Man, Return to Oz was such a bastardization of "Marvelous Land" and "Ozma" - still, it had more Baum to it than the old MGM "all singing, all dancing" all vomiting wreck.
    • Return to Oz was awesome. I saw it in the theater when I was six years old. Pretty heavy stuff at that age...the living bodyless heads were especially striking. My parents expected something entirely different.
      • by K8Fan (37875) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:49PM (#20323619) Journal

        "Return to Oz" was a very enjoyable film on it's own merits, but the movie critics of the time were unable to judge it on those merits - and could only see it as the film that didn't have Judy Garland in it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I saw it in the theater when I was six years old. Pretty heavy stuff at that age...the living bodyless heads were especially striking. My parents expected something entirely different.

        It might have been heavy stuff as compared the Wizard of Oz movie, but in the books Dorothy or Ozma were quite regularly in serious danger and dealing with bizarre perhaps horrific things. I don't really see why your parents were suprised. Then again if you made a movie based on most fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm it wo
        • by hguorbray (967940) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:36PM (#20323987)
          Actually there were 'scientific' slightly futuristic (for the story time frame) elements in Return to OZ -the primitive electrochock machine they were going to hook Dorothy up to in the asylum for instance. -and the Wheelers looked like some sort of skatepunks........

          Having read all the Oz books as a kid I was thrilled to see a more accurate, darker picture of the land of Oz after the more saccharine MGM version. I guess I should check out 'Wicked' for the same reason

          Also, Fairuza Balk, young Dorothy, went on to become quite the bad girl in movies such as 'the Craft', the disastrous remake of 'the island of Doctor Moreau and other uneven fare such as 'No FishFood in Heaven' which was notable for having stolen its plot from the Velevet Underground song 'The Gift' which was narrated by John Cale (It was now mid August and Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit....)

          I'm just sayin'.....
          • by hazem (472289)
            Having read all the Oz books as a kid I was thrilled to see a more accurate, darker picture of the land of Oz after the more saccharine MGM version. I guess I should check out 'Wicked' for the same reason

            You might enjoy Snow White: A Tale of Terror http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119227/ [imdb.com] with Sigourney Weaver playing the evil stepmother. I felt it lived up to its name quite well.
        • I agree. I read the Wizard of Oz and the Tin Man of Oz to my son and found I had to "edit" some of the action and descriptions.
    • I saw Return to Oz as a teenager and I found it a bit unsettling. I did like it though, not sure if a little kid would like it, might be pretty scary.
    • by Chyeld (713439)
      Given how faithful Baum himself was to the books, I don't fault MGM for the times they strayed. Read about the play Baum co-wrote based on the first book if you really want to see something off base from the original.
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      Can't agree with that. By the time I saw Wizard I had read the first fifteen (one of those early-reading brats), and I was really up for it -- until I found they'd made a brainless, frothy musical out of it. That was where I learned what Hollywood does to literature.

      Compared to that travesty, Return was fantastic. The critics, of course, murdered it for not being crap like Wizard.

      rj

    • I loved Return to Oz as a kid.

      And it still holds up today, I think, upon repeat viewing. One thing I like about it, is that it is a little bit dark and exciting. It's chilling when Mombie wakes up without her head. It's creepy at the beginning what Dorothy is about to get electro-shock treatment.

      I really take issue with the screen writer here who wants to make something tame. It should be good enough to give kids chills where appropriate... that's what kept me watching it over again as a kid. If it was
      • My 7 year old just finished reading Ozma - and we rented Return, to watch. He thought it ok, but preferred the book, with Princess Langwidere, and all the Nome King's ornaments... Toc-Toc met with approval, 'tho.

        I haven't given him Marvelous Land, yet. When I was 7, it was a bit hurtful and upsetting to have the Hero turned into a girl at the end... I think he can deal, but I'd rather he go to Dorothy and the Wizard, first.
  • A tamer PG movie? What? Am I the only one confused by these statements and modern movies?
  • wtf (Score:4, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:37PM (#20323511) Homepage
    After purchasing the rights to the Oz books from Ted Turner Warner Bros., along with Village Roadshow Pictures, will be taking Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's idea to produce movies based on the Oz books.

    Excellent! And perhaps they might even be able to get Uwe Boll to direct!
  • by cpghost (719344) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:38PM (#20323525) Homepage
    L. Frank Baum's [wikipedia.org] books have been in the public domain for quite some time now. They're available in Project Gutenberg, on Wikisource and everywhere.
  • Math is hard (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:42PM (#20323551)
    If you're going to include Thompson, then there are more than 15. Here's wikipedia's list of the "famous forty"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oz_books [wikipedia.org]
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:44PM (#20323579) Homepage

    Just because they've bought the rights, that doesn't mean they'll actually make the movies. It's extremely common for a studio to buy rights to a book, then never make the movie.

    The quality of the Oz books is very uneven. Some of the later ones have long, extremely tedious sections that serve no purpose except to bring back a long list of favorite characters like Jack Pumpkinhead. A lot of the plots revolve around lame puns.

    • The quality of the Oz books is very uneven. Some of the later ones have long, extremely tedious sections that serve no purpose except to bring back a long list of favorite characters like Jack Pumpkinhead

      Perhaps they could replace him with Stan Winston's Pumpkinhead [wikipedia.org]

      ("Bolted doors and windows barred, Guard dogs prowling in the yard, Won't protect you in your bed, Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.)

    • by Soko (17987)
      The quality of the Oz books is very uneven. Some of the later ones have long, extremely tedious sections that serve no purpose except to bring back a long list of favorite characters like Jack Pumpkinhead. A lot of the plots revolve around lame puns.

      IOW, if you like the average Slashdot story and "discussion", you'll love the books?

      Soko
    • by Lithdren (605362)
      Wow....

      Sounds like they'll fit right into the Hollywood landscape of movies then.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > A lot of the plots revolve around lame puns.

      Can't be any worse than Piers Anthony then.

      Then again, I can't really think of much of anything that's worse than Piers Anthony's books. Except maybe Piers Anthony himself.
  • by thisissilly (676875) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#20323599)
    ...given that all 15 [wikipedia.org] are in the Public Domain [wikipedia.org], having been published before 1923. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't claim 16, seeing as the 16th was published in 1922.

    Everyone in the US has the right to make any of those books into a movie.

    • But do they have the right to title them as "Oz" movies? The copyrights may be expired, but trademarks *never* go away as long as defended.
      • Given that the title includes the word Oz, that is unlikely to be much of a barrier.

        They could always call it 0Z (chr(13)) instead and it would ... look like Oz, but would be more like the original typeface that more resembled a zero plus Z.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          Given that the title includes the word Oz, that is unlikely to be much of a barrier.

          They could always call it 0Z (chr(13)) instead and it would ... look like Oz, but would be more like the original typeface that more resembled a zero plus Z.

          They couldn't do that. If Oz is a valid trademark, then 0z wouldn't be available. It would be a violation of the trademark to use one which causes confusion. So while 0z wouldn't necessarily be problematic if one were naming a furniture brand, calling a movie 0z and basing it on a reality very similar to the ones in the books would.

          That being said, I don't know if Oz was ever trademarked, and if so if the trademark is still valid. I suspect not, because it was based upon the abbreviation for ounce.

          • Given that Oz is ounce and the word Oz has been in common use as a synonym for a foreign country (Australia) since I was a small child, I seriously doubt any trademark would stand up in court.

            Even if I did trademark All Of The Above (tm) once.
      • But do they have the right to title them as "Oz" movies?
        Eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that trademarks cannot be used to extend the term of exclusive rights in a work whose U.S. copyright has expired. Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23 (2003) [wikipedia.org].
        • by Jardine (398197)
          Eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that trademarks cannot be used to extend the term of exclusive rights in a work whose U.S. copyright has expired. Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23 (2003).

          Sadly, in Canada the opposite is true. Anne of Green Gables is in the public domain but the author's heirs and the government of PEI used some kind of trademark law loophole to keep a monopoly on it.
  • by fireboy1919 (257783) <{rustyp} {at} {freeshell.org}> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#20323605) Homepage Journal

    "McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight," wrote journalist Michael Fleming. "That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto re-imagined as an over-sized snarling warthog.

    Olson's vision is of a bit tamer PG movie and hopefully the two can find some middle ground of compromise that will please them both and not hurt the final product.
    This was missing from the end:
    McFarlane and Olson are also planning on releasing a new hip, edgy version of the Care Bears based mostly on Sin City. The "Care Bear Stare" will be reimagined as beam weapons mounted on the bears heads that melt off peoples faces. A sequel of "Milo and Otis" set twenty years later is also scheduled as the newest spin on "Pet Cemetary."

    While nothing else is really complete, these two want to assure you that the plan to replace every warm, fuzzy childhood story with nightmarish tales so that you'll lose all sense of past and therefore be willing to watch anything is proceeding according to plan and scheduled to be complete by the year 2015.
    • by Mad Bad Rabbit (539142) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:07PM (#20323769)

      Maybe McFarlane was influenced by the Marin Independent Journal's movie synopsis:

      "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again."

    • the Smurfs. There's a pRon (=$$$) story to be told, with all those males and only one Smurfette.
    • by monopole (44023)
      McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight," wrote journalist Michael Fleming. "That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto re-imagined as an over-sized snarling warthog.

      Olson's vision is of a bit tamer PG movie and hopefully the two can find some middle ground of compromise that will please them both and not hurt the final product.


      Aww, I want an unrated version combining the best parts of
    • by geobeck (924637)

      McFarlane and Olson are also planning on releasing a new hip, edgy version of the Care Bears...

      I think Seth Green already beat them to it [infectiousvideos.com].

      (Found it on Infectious Videos. It was on YouTube [youtube.com], but the theme apparently violated their terms of service.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kabocox (199019)
      "McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight," wrote journalist Michael Fleming. "That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto re-imagined as an over-sized snarling warthog.

      While nothing else is really complete, these two want to assure you that the plan to replace every warm, fuzzy childhood story with nightmarish tales so that you'll lose all sense of past and therefore be willing to watch
  • Hollywood thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taustin (171655) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#20323609) Homepage Journal
    "... hopefully the two can ... compromise ... and not hurt the final product.'"

    That they can even say this with a straight face is why movies suck.
  • Get progressively sillier, more episodic and more random. Its like Piers Anthony, only possible worse.
  • For those of us who already put up with endless Dorothy and Toto jokes, be afraid, be very afraid...
  • Please? [wikipedia.org]
  • FTA (Score:5, Funny)

    by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@nOSpAM.mindless.com> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:28PM (#20323911) Journal
    "Dorothy as some bondage queen isn't something I want to do," Olson told Fleming.

    He can speak for himself. Red thigh-high stiletto boots work magic for me!
  • Tin Woodman of Oz (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's a group Animation:Master [hash.com] users who have been working on a full-length, CGI production of The Tin Woodman of Oz [hash.com]. The entire project is taking place on-line. For example, here are links to the production journal [hash.com] and the image gallery [hash.com]. You can find much more additional information - clips, discussions, animatics, models - on the website.

    I'd think the development of an "Open" movie - much like Blender's Elephant's Dream [elephantsdream.org] and Project Peach [blender.org] - only more ambitious, would be more interesting to Slashdot rea

  • That Baum was writing about monetary reform etc. Oz being ounces, the yellow brick road being gold. Silver slippers etc. Then you have the tin man, scarecrow, munchkins etc representing various facets of society.
     
    • Details on the above referenced theory are here [amphigory.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Except he never mentions that, ever. Most of that speculation comes from the style of drawing, say that they were the same style that appeared in political cartoons; however they fail to mention that the reason that style was used in political cartoons because it was there style at the time. almost any drawing from that periods will look similar.

      really, it's a case of finding pattern because you are looking for a pattern. Just because you interpret a pattern doesn't mean that pattern was intentional.
  • Sooo.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by qzulla (600807) <qzilla@hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:35PM (#20323975)
    Do you think they can get Pink Floyd for the sound track?

    qz
  • American McGee (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paralizer (792155) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:36PM (#20323989) Homepage
    American McGee is supposed to be doing a film version of his video game American McGee's Alice [wikipedia.org].
    There is some info about it here [imdb.com].

    How will these versions compare? American's was very dark and twisted, with Alice emotionally disturbed and borderline insane. Characters were murdered and gruesome experiments were performed on the inhabitants of Wonderland.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jkoke (1112287)
      I'm thinking they will be quite different, since American's adaptation is based on a book by Lewis Carroll, called Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and this story is about an adaptation of books written by L. Frank Baum, beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • sheesh, that's not even a full pound of books.

  • Sorry couldn't help myself, just read like "all 15 Oz books" like they were meaning book weighing 15 Ounces and not the Oz as content.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:18PM (#20324377) Homepage
    The Oz books are not very cinematic.

    The 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz was almost an original creation. It was a success, not because of L. Frank Baum's story, but because of its wonderful performers, wonderful music, wonderful art direction, and interesting script. At least half of the cherished elements of the movie have no parallels in the original.

    OK, so they have the Oz books, but have they got a Harold Arlen and a Ray Bolger and a Judy Garland?

    Great material doesn't guarantee a great movie. Don't forget, there was also a Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings.
  • by Cjays (866936) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:54PM (#20324669)
    I'd love to see an authentic depiction of the story rated at least PG-13. I want see the woodsman get hacked to pieces with his enchanted axe (cursed by the Wicked Witch of the East) before being rebuilt as the Tin Man. I want to see the Lion fight off the tiger-bear beasts and kill the giant spider. I want to see the Tin Man slaughter the 40 wolves of the Witch, and the Scarecrow wring the necks of the 40 crows. It would have been cool to see Tim Burton make this. Johnny Depp could have played one of the flying monkeys.
  • of course everything will be extensively reworked, to achieve the proper balance between the political correctness and maximizing the profits. blah ... by coincidence, i've picked up the OZ omnibus about a few months ago, and been reading it since. uneven, of course, but there is a certain charm in each story. old-fashioned charm we surely won't see in WB version.
  • Australia needs some culture, fast.
  • The Wizard of Oz stories were Midwestern socialist allegories. Warner, the great media corporation, will surely not make any movie "faithful" to that theme.

    But since the books' copyright expired in 1956 [findarticles.com], anyone who wants will be free to make an adaptation telling a socialist story, promoted by the same hype machine Warner uses to turn its "property" into a huge moneymaker.
  • But what do we do with the really, really, heavy books? :>
  • I don't believe it was necessary to buy the rights, but that all depends.

    If you simply wish to base your movies on the public domain books, you don't need any rights.
    If you wish to incorporate any of the concepts or stylings of the Judy Garland version of the movie, then you do.

    There is a third possibility that they wished to avoid any potential lawsuits. Whether or not MGM had legal right to sue this movie production, perhaps it was easier just to pay them a modest sum not to worry about it. A good examp

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