A new adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is coming to the big screen courtesy of Kenya Barris. The Black-ish creator will write and direct a modern reimagining of the iconic story for Warner Bros. Khalabo Ink Society will produce with Sheila Walcott overseeing the project.
There aren’t many other details right now, but Barris’ involvement should make this project unique from previous Wizard of Oz adaptations. L. Frank Baum‘s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 and quickly became a classic. It’s popularity has led to several significant adaptations, most notably the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland.
There was also The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson – based on the musical by William F. Brown – and Sam Raimi‘s 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful, the most recent theatrical Oz film which served as a prequel to the original story.
Barris will have some competition, as Wicked – Part 1 is due to arrive in 2024, which is directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) and based on Stephen Schwartz‘s musical of the same name which tells the Oz story from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. The musical, based on Gregory McGuire‘s book, was an immense success, so hopes will be high for the film.
But Barris should be more than up for the task. In addition to creating the acclaimed Black-ish and its spinoffs Grown-ish and Mixed-ish, he also created and starred in Netflix series #blackAF and has directed Eddie Murphy film You People, which will hit Netflix sometime later this year.
He’s also been a part of the writing team on many projects in the last decade, so he has plenty of experience writing for a variety of genres. So it will be fascinating to see how he approaches a modern version of The Wizard of Oz and how much of the original story is retained and how much is changed.
The project is in very early development right now, but there will no doubt be plenty of discussion about casting in the months to come.