A new adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is in the works at New Line, with Nicole Kassell (Watchmen) on board to direct. Variety reports the new movie, based on L. Frank Baum's classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, will be a "fresh take" on the famous 1939 film featuring Judy Garland as the original Dorothy. New Line promises the new Oz could "draw on other elements" from the original movie, such as the iconic ruby red slippers.
According to Deadline, Kassell's appointment comes as a result of an extensive director search. The outlet claims New Line liked her work on the Emmy-winning HBO series Watchmen –– specifically her attention to detail and her method of highlighting carefully placed easter eggs from the comics, a quality the Television Academy admired as well. Kassell was also nominated for Outstanding Directing for a limited series, movie, or dramatic special and won a DGA Award for dramatic series. She was responsible for directing three of its nine episodes (including the pilot) as a visual architect.
"I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill 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. 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!"
Kassell delivered her feature-length debut with The Woodsman. It originally premiered in competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Newmarket Films. The movie received a CACAE (Art House award) at Directors' Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival and other fest awards and earned Kassell a Spirit Awards nomination for Best First Feature.
Published in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has long been a Hollywood favorite. It's spawned multiple reimaginings. Darren Lemke, Neil Widener and Gavin James penned the past screenplay drafts. Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce alongside Marc Platt. Isaac Klausner will executive produce.