Return To Oz - Production

Production

Murch began development on the film in 1980, during a brainstorming session with Walt Disney Pictures production chief Tom Wilhite. “It was just a fishing expedition on both of our parts," Murch remembered. "But one of the questions he asked was, ‘What are you interested in that you think we might also be interested in?’, and I said, ‘Another Oz story.’ … And Tom sort of straightened up in his chair because it turned out, unbeknownst to me, that Disney owned the rights to all of the Oz stories. And they were particularly interested in doing something with them because the copyright was going to run out in the next five years.”

The film is based loosely on the second and third Oz books, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) and Ozma of Oz (1907). The element about Tik-Tok being "The Royal Army of Oz" derives from Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), in which he is made the Royal Army of Oogaboo, and also makes frequent cries of "Pick me up!" That book was itself based on a dramatic production, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (1913). Murch also used the book Wisconsin Death Trip as an historical source for the film.

Murch took a decidedly darker take on Baum's source material than the 1939 original, which he knew starting out would be a gamble. Between the development period and actual shooting, there was a change of leadership at the Walt Disney studios (with Wilhite being replaced by Richard Berger), and the movie's budget increased. Once shooting began, Murch began to fall behind schedule, and there was further pressure from the studio, leading to Murch being fired as director for a short period. George Lucas and other high profile filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola supported Murch in discussions with the studio, and Murch was reinstated and finished the film.

The film was made without the involvement of MGM, the studio that made the 1939 film. No approval was necessary, because by 1985, the Oz books on which the film was based were in the public domain, and the subsequent Oz books had been optioned to Disney many years earlier. A large fee was paid, however, to use the ruby slippers, which were still the intellectual property of MGM at the time.

Read more about this topic:  Return To Oz

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