With production gearing up to begin in July after many false starts, including the fallout of original director Sam Mendes and flirtations with casting both Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp, Disney has at last found its Wonderful Wizard of Oz: James Franco.
Deadline reports that Franco, this Sunday's Oscar host and ubiquitous star of, well, pretty much everything, has closed a deal to re-team with his "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi for "Oz: The Great and Powerful." Besides a good working relationship with Raimi, Franco brings a recent Oscar-nominated performance in "127 Hours" to the table as well as promising lead roles in this year's "Your Highness," "Rise of the Apes," and a Broadway revival of "Sweet Bird of Youth" with Nicole Kidman.
Feature player in this year's most les-tastic sex scene, "Black Swan"'s Mila Kunis, will co-star as villainess Wicked Witch of the West. Both she and Franco were previously circling the Hughes Brothers' live-action version of "Akira" but have firmly staked their claim in bringing L. Frank Baum's Oz back to the screen.
Word around town is that Disney has been struggling to bring their next potential "Alice in Wonderland" to the screen with a budget below $200-million, but the casting of Franco clears up much of the concern.
Before he follows the yellow brick road, Franco will make a detour into Noah Baumbach's world of solipsistic New Yorkers in "While We're Young" opposite Ben Stiller, all while commuting back-and-forth to Yale working on his Ph.D in creative writing. Seriously, how's that cure for cancer coming, Franco?