Has ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Been Remade Before?

The Wizard of Oz remains one of the most beloved movies of all time. The 1939 film starring Judy Garland was a massive cinematic innovation at the time and changed how Hollywood made movies forever.

Bert Lahr (1895-1967), US actor and comedian, Jack Haley (1897-1979), US actor, Ray Bolger (1904-1987), US actor, Judy Garland (1922-1969), US actress and singer, and Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985), US actress, all in costume, in a publicity still from the film, 'The Wizard of Oz', 1939. The musical, adapted from the novel by L Frank Baum (1856-1919) and directed by Victor Fleming (1889-1949), starred Lahr as the 'Cowardly Lion', Haley as the 'Tin Man', Bolger as the 'Scarecrow', Garland as 'Dorthy Gale', and Hamilton as the 'Wicked Witch of the West' | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Bert Lahr (1895-1967), Jack Haley (1897-1979), Ray Bolger (1904-1987), Judy Garland (1922-1969), and Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985) in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, 1939 | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a classic movie

The Wizard of Oz broke barriers at the time of its release for several reasons. A feature film on that scale had never been released in Technicolor, marking the beginning of a new age in Hollywood.

Judy Garland’s role as Dorothy Gale became her calling card by the end of her life, and remains her most beloved role to this day. Together with her three friends the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow, Dorothy and her gang make their way to the Emerald City to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The musical included several songs that remain classics to this day, such as Garland’s ballad “Over the Rainbow.”

The Wizard of Oz cast outside the Emerald City
Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow and Frank Morgan as the Doorman to the Emerald City in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ | Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

‘The Wizard of Oz’ is getting a remake

In February 2021, New Line Cinema announced that they were in the process of remaking the legendary story for a new audience.

The reboot will be helmed by Watchmen director Nicole Kassell. “I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill [Productions] and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen,” Kassell said 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,” she added. “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.”

The cast of 'The Wizard of Oz'
The cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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‘The Wizard of Oz’ has more than 1 version

While it may seem that the Wizard of Oz story is completely untouchable, this won’t be the first time someone has tried to give a fresh take on the story. In fact, the 1939 film was far from the first take on the children’s tale by L. Frank Baum.

The 1939 Technicolor classic was the eighth adaptation of Baum’s story at the time; prior to the movie, the story had been told on the radio and in short films, some of which have been lost to history.

In 1978, the Wizard of Oz story got a facelift in the form of The Wiz, an iconic retelling of the story featuring an all-star all-Black cast of actors including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor. The film was panned and bombed at the box office, but it became a cult classic that means so much to so many people, and even got a live TV musical treatment in 2015 with an equally star-studded cast.

There have been 17 takes on The Wizard of Oz in total since the story first emerged in 1900, with the most recent recognizable outing being 2013’s Oz: The Great and Powerful starring James Franco and Mila Kunis. And of course, the smash Broadway musical Wicked is a beloved prequel to the Wizard of Oz universe.