Another version of The Wizard of Oz is coming soon. Warner Bros. hired Black-ish creator Kenya Barris to write and direct a new adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel. The Wizard of Oz has been brought to the big and small screen countless times, most famously in 1939 with Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale.
Barris' Khalabo Ink Society is producing the new film, with Sheila Walcott overseeing for Warner Bros., reports Deadline. It's unclear what Barris will do to put his creative stamp on the story, but it is billed as a "modern reimagining" of the 1939 film. Barris' deal closed last week.
This is not the only Wizard of Oz project in development at Warner Bros. In February 2021, the studio's New Line Cinema label hired Nicole Kassell (Watchmen) to direct a "fresh take" on The Wizard of Oz. However, this movie will "draw on other elements" from the 1939 movie.
"I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen," Kassell said in a statement to Variety. "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!"
Barris is best known for creating the hit ABC series Black-ish but has worked more often on films lately. He co-wrote Girls Trip and the recent remakes of Shaft, The Witches, and Cheaper by the Dozen. He also co-wrote Coming 2 America. His directing debut, You People, will be released on Netflix later this year. He co-wrote the film with Jonah Hill, who stars alongside Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mike Epps, Nia Long, and Deon Cole. Barris is also developing a remake of White Men Can't Jump and a Richard Pryor biopic.
Baum published the first Oz novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in 1900. He wrote 13 more books, which were published between 1907 and 1920, with the last two coming after his death in 1919. All of the books are in the public domain, making them available for any studio to adapt. The 1939 MGM classic drew mostly from the first novel and is considered one of the most-seen movies in American history. In July, Warner Bros. Movie World in Queensland, Australia, announced plans to build a Wizard of Oz-themed area, which will open by 2024.