Drew Barrymore to direct another Wizard of Oz film

Drew Barrymore has reportedly signed on to direct Surrender Dorothy, which joins at least five other Wizard of Oz films announced in recent weeks

Another day, another Wizard of Oz reimagining. Drew Barrymore looks set to become the latest member of the Hollywood glitterati to travel down the yellow brick road after signing on to direct Surrender Dorothy, pitched as a loose sequel to the 1939 musical.

Barrymore, who recently made her debut as a feature film-maker with the well-received rollerderby movie Whip It, was originally tipped to star in the project when it was first proposed back in 2002. She would have played the great-great-granddaughter of Dorothy, a young woman who has to learn how to use the power of those famed ruby red slippers to keep the Wicked Witch of the West from taking control of the kingdoms of Earth and Oz.

There's no word on whether Barrymore will still be taking the lead role, though at 35 she might be considered a little old for the part. The project has been resurrected due to the current proliferation of movies based on much-loved children's stories, following the enormous box-office success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

At least five films based on the Wizard of Oz have been reported in recent weeks. Disney, which made Alice in Wonderland, is developing Oz the Great and Powerful, an origins tale revealing how L Frank Baum's wonderful wizard ended up at the Emerald City (and possibly featuring Sam Mendes directing Robert Downey Jr as the wizard). There are also two CGI versions, as well as another based on a comic-book series, and finally the bizarre-looking The Witches of Oz, featuring Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd (as the wizard) and Alien's Lance Henriksen.

Though all 14 of Baum's Oz books are now out of copyright, and therefore freely available for anyone to plunder, it seems unlikely that all of the above will make it into cinemas: often in these cases, one or more of the films will fall at the wayside at the development stage. If not, there are going to be more wizards in multiplexes over the next few years than at a Harry Potter convention.

The Wizard of Oz story has been adapted for the big screen on many occasions, with the most famous version being the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland. Disney itself brought Return to Oz, based on two of Baum's sequels, to cinemas in 1985.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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