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'Oz The Great And Powerful' Could Be Disney's Next 'John Carter' Flop


Oz the great and powerfulWhen "Oz the Great and Powerful" comes out next month, Disney hopes to rekindle the magic of its $1 billion film from two years ago, "Alice in Wonderland." 

After all, it's been heavily marketed to look like a carbon copy of Tim Burton's 2010 hit featuring Johnny Depp. 

Posters for the "Oz" resemble a near replica of "Wonderland," and that's no mistake. "Oz" used the same production designer and has the same producer as Burton's flick. 

In many ways, we can prepare to feel like we're going "through the looking glass" rather than stepping necessarily into Oz. 

And its easy to see why.  

john carterAfter its $200 million write off on "John Carter" last year, a film which cost a quarter of $1 billion to make, Disney has a lot at stake. 

It's taken a gamble on "Oz," a prequel to the 1939 classic featuring James Franco and Mila Kunis, with another high production budget estimated around $200 million and up to another $100 million in marketing costs 

If this film doesn't live up to the hype, it has anticipated blockbuster "Iron Man 3" come May to pick up the slack. However, there's also the long-troubled "Lone Ranger" come July, too. 

Despite its heavy push as the next "Wonderland," with incoming poor reviews and a director who hasn't seen a hit since "Spider-Man,""Oz" could end up being the studio's next "John Carter" misstep.  

There are a few signs that hint the film may come up short opening weekend: 

1. Director Sam Raimi's track record:

spider-man 2

Raimi's known for his horror films ("The Evil Dead" series, "The Grudge") and his original "Spider-Man" trilogy which has earned more than $2 billion worldwide. 

The last time Raimi was put in charge of a film with a large $200 million estimated budget, we received the underwhelming "Spider-Man 3" plagued by one too many super villains, emo-Peter Parker, and an odd jazz sequence. 

Other than his Spidey flicks, Raimi's track record as director on screen hasn't produced any other $100 million films (Raimi produced "The Grudge" which earned $187.3 million). His last horror flick, 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" earned $90.8 million worldwide.  

"Alice in Wonderland" has set the bar for "Oz." With the same projected budget, it earned an immense $116 million the same weekend in March 2010. 

"John Carter," which opened March 9 last year, earned $30.2 million opening weekend on a bloated $250 million budget. 

Raimi's opening weekends as director fluctuate immensely. Outside the "Spider-Man" franchise none are above $20 million.  

"Spider-Man 3":  $151.1 million
 "Spider-Man":  $114.8 million
 "Spider-Man 2":  $88.2 million
 "Drag Me to Hell":   $15.8 million 
 "Darkman":  $8 million

BoxOffice.com has seen a bump in anticipation for the film and predicts the film will open to a $65 million weekend, little more than half of "Wonderland."

2. Poor first reviews: 

A lack of reviews a week before the movie's projected opening March 8 may be signal of the Mouse House's trepidation about its costly film.  

The first reviews are just coming out today, and they're not good.

Variety say Rami's visuals impress, but falls miles short of the original, comparing it to the likes of George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels.

The Hollywood Reporter calls the film an unimaginative prequel and lead Franco miscast.

That may be because ... 

james franco oz the great and powerful

3. Franco wasn't the first choice for the film:

Rather, he was director Raimi's third choice behind Robert Downey Jr. and Disney's blockbuster cash cow Johnny Depp ("Pirates of the Caribbean" series and "Alice in Wonderland") for the Great 'Wizard of Oz.'  

Unfortunately for Raimi, Depp had his prior commitment to Disney's "The Lone Ranger" out later this year.  

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Downey Jr. left the director unimpressed after seeing a plant he gave the actor dead upon a meeting. He'll also be in Disney's big money maker, "Iron Man 3." 

With five months to go before production began, Raimi acquired Franco, who he previously worked with on "Spider-Man" to lead his "Oz." 

kansas, wizard of oz, dorothy4. It won't be like the original: 

If you're expecting the film to reflect 1939's MGM hit, "The Wizard of Oz," don't. It's going to be very different. 

Warner Bros. currently owns the copyright to the film, so although Disney may want you to have the original hit in mind, it needs to be wary of what it includes. 

Upon visiting the set, blog SlashFilm said makeup artist Howard Berger came up with a specific shade of green named "Theostein" to please Disney's legal team.  The New York Times also noted Disney went to the lengths to make sure its Witch looked very different from Margaret Hamilton's. 

In addition, we won't see much of the Yellow Brick Road, the munchkins have been altered in costume, and the flying monkeys have been endowed with sharp fangs. 

Still, ABC cleverly inserted ruby slippers from the 1939 classic in its Oscar red carpet coverage, even though Dorothy's shoes won't be clicking anywhere in the upcoming prequel.

mila kunis oz the great and powerful5. How it could be a win for Disney: 


What could send "Oz" into "Alice in Wonderland" territory, is the film's twist ending.  

Early on, when trailers began rolling out for the film, Rachel Weisz' character, Evanora, quickly became pinned as the character to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West.  

After a one-sheet poster for the witch came out vaguely resembling Weisz with the green make-up, sites including Hitfix pit the actress as the Wicked Witch. 

However, earlier this month, Disney seemed to spoil its film with the reveal of Kunis's character Theodora in the anticipated role. The store's website is selling a Wicked Witch mug showing the actress in her transformation. 

If you want to see the image, click here. 

With an unexpected twist of turning the naive, peace-seeking Theodora into the iconic broom-wielding Wicked Witch, the film could generate a lot of word of mouth when it opens next weekend.

However, Variety points out that the films final transformation won't be a surprise at the end.

"Suffice to say that the transformation is poorly motivated at best, and the unlucky girl in question, sporting not only the requisite green skin but also an eyeful of cleavage, seems a better candidate for top honors at a West Hollywood Halloween bash than for the mantle of Margaret Hamilton."

"Oz the Great and Powerful" opens March 8.

SEE ALSO: The trailer for the movie >

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