The film is based on L. Frank Baum's Oz novels, and also pays homage to the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz. Set 20 years before the events of both sources, Oz the Great and Powerful focuses on Oscar Diggs, who arrives in the Land of Oz and encounters three witches: Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda. Oscar is then enlisted to restore order in Oz, while struggling to resolve conflicts with the witches and himself.
Oz the Great and Powerful premiered at the El Capitan Theatre on February 14, 2013, and with general theatrical release on March 8, 2013, through the Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats, as well as in conventional theatres. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a box office success, grossing over $493 million worldwide in revenue, $149 million of which was earned during its opening weekend worldwide.
When Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician and con artist with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot - fame and fortune are his for the taking - that is, until he meets three witches, Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda, who are not convinced he is the great wizard that everyone has been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity - and even a bit of wizardry - Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is an ambitious illusionist/con man employed by a midwestern traveling circus. Despite being greatly ambitious, Oscar's magic career isn't taking off. His illusions are cheap, his suits are torn and patched, and he's barely making enough money to keep his head above water. Frank (Zach Braff), Oscar's circus assistant, barges into Oscar's caravan as he puts the moves on his latest magician's assistant May (Abigail Spencer). He produces a small wooden music box, which he claims once belonged to his great-grandmother, and gives it to May as a token of his love. Frank reminds Oscar, or Oz, as he's known, that his next show is about to begin. Frank hands Oz the show's cash takings: an old hat filled with a dozen quarters and nickels. Oz reluctantly plucks a pair of coins from the hat and gives them to Frank, and pockets the rest. Frank is unhappy with how Oz treats him.
The magic show begins with Oz striding out onto the stage in a mystical, quasi-oriental robe and turban. A young girl in a wheelchair in the front row (Joey King) watches in awe as Oz calls for a volunteer. A dozen hands shoot up, but none belong to May, Oz's assistant and ringer for the show. Oz finally calls May to the stage, much to the bewilderment of the crowd, and she takes the stage. Backstage, Frank produces all of the practical effects for the show: playing music, setting off pyrotechnics, etc. On stage Oz puts May into a deep sleep and causes her unconscious body to float in mid air. An irate voice shouts something from the back: "I see a wire!" Another voice joins in: "Yeah! I see two of 'em!" Bright lights are cast onto the stage, and sure enough, two very visible wires are seen suspending May's body from the ceiling "I want my money back you fraud!" Oz gestures to Frank, who tosses him a scimitar. Oz flicks the scimitar between his hands and then violently cuts the visible wires.... but May remains floating. The crowd gasps and Oz, for the finale, whips the silk sheet off of May's body, revealing empty air. The crowd applauds in unison, and Oz happily accepts the "Bravos!" and "Encores!", and then a small voice cuts through the cheers: "Make me walk!" All goes silent. The little girl in the front row, in the wheelchair, pushes herself toward the stage and repeats her pleas "Please, Wizard. Make me walk!" Oz, caught off guard by the unscripted request, seeks a diplomatic or heartfelt response, but all that comes out is "I'm not that kind of wizard, kid." The crowd turns on him, booing and hissing. Oz, who is now being pelted by popcorn and peanut shells, tells Frank to close the curtains.
Outside, the circus-folk are hurriedly packing up the traveling circus as gray clouds swirl above them. Frank takes Oz aside and tells him that a certain lady-friend is waiting for him in his caravan. He sidesteps the chaos, enters his caravan and is surprised to see a young blonde woman, and not May, waiting for him. This is Annie (Michelle Williams); one of Oz's old romances he met on the road. She's come to see Oz because another man, John Gale, proposed to her and she wanted to tell him first. The pair's chemistry is obvious, but Oz's philandering has ruined anything they might have had. Outside, May watches as another brunette, close to her age, bursts out of a tent holding a music box identical to the one Oz gave her. She swiftly realizes that Oz used her. Seconds later an angry strong-man, the woman's husband, comes bursting out of the tent, hell-bent on tearing Oz a new one. The strong-man crashes through Oz's caravan wall and chases Oz all through the fairground. Oz manages to sneak aboard a readied hot air balloon and escape the clutches of the strong-man. As he soars away Frank throws Oz his hat and magician's bag, filled with his various illusionary instruments. From above Oz watches as all the circus folk fearfully run away, and then he sees it: a massive tornado which is sucking him in. Oz pins himself as tightly as possible into the balloon's basket as the entire contraption is violently whipped back-and-forth inside of the tornado.
After nearly being impaled dozens of times, Oz prays and begs to be saved; he promises to do great things in return for being saved from death. All suddenly grows quiet, as Oz looks out of the basket to see he's emerged from the twister and into the colorful, widescreen World of Oz. Oz and the balloon luckily avoid hitting the giant mountains surrounding them, but the balloon ultimately crashes, and Oz unceremoniously lands in a shallow river. Oz, bewildered, finds himself surrounded with gigantic sentient plants and small mischievous fairies which peck at his legs. He calls out for help, and through the bushes appears the beautiful and alluring Theodora (Mila Kunis). Theodora answers him and Oz, struck by her beauty, puts on the charm. He tells her that his name is Oz, and she is shocked ― the prophecy foretold that a wizard named Oz (the name of their land) would return to Oz and save them from the Wicked Witch. Oz, jokes that all witches must be green, warted, and must ride a broom, to which Theodora responds "but I'm a witch." She explains that there are good witches and wicked witches, and that she is simply a good witch. Mysterious growling echoes from the forest nearby and Theodora, recognizing the sound of the Wicked Witch's minions tells Oz to hide. The pair disappear into an alcove and watch as a frightening winged howler monkey swoops in and searches for them. Oz, thinking quickly, reaches into his top hat and retrieves a white dove which he releases into the air. The howler monkey, seeing the bird, flies off after it. Oz and Theodora escape and begin their trek to the Emerald City.
They set up camp for the night. Oz asks Theodora about how evil this Wicked Witch is, learning that she killed her own father to take the throne for herself - she's the daughter of the late King of Oz. Hearing this makes Oz a little uneasy as he's supposed to be the one who gets rid of the Wicked Witch. Instead, Oz uses his charms to appeal to Theodora, and she soon falls in love with him. She tells him that as the new Wizard of Oz, he will soon become the land's new king and that, if he will allow it, she will be his queen. As a token of his love, Oz gives Theodora a wooden music box ― the same type of box given to May and countless other women he met over the years. They dance together to the music box, which ultimately leads to them kissing.
The pair walks toward the Emerald City and soon come across a winged Capuchin monkey tangled in a mass of man eating plants. Theodora implores that Oz help the monkey and Oz, eager to impress his new girl, frees the monkey, named Finley (Zach Braff) from the weeds. Oz soon realizes that the plants were not the true threat. A massive lion appears, about to pounce on Oz and Finley. Oz, without thinking, reaches into his jacket pocket and tosses a handful of powder to the ground. Thick red smoke explodes from the ground and frightens the cowardly lion away. Theodora, now convinced that Oz is the true wizard of the prophecy, hugs him. Finley, thankful for Oz's intervention, offers his servitude to Oz for life. Finley explains that as a debtor to Oz, he must do anything and everything Oz says. Oz immediately tells the shocked Finley that he is not the Wizard that Theodora thinks that he is. He's just a con man, with a few illusions and tricks up his sleeve. Finley is disappointed to hear this news, but doesn't tell Theodora. Oz hands his heavy bag to Finley and tells him to follow them. The trio soon meets a large caravan of horses and soldiers along a yellow-brick road. Their leader, Knuck (Tony Cox) does not believe Oz is the great wizard Theodora says he is. Oz talks down to Knuck, calls him "sour puss" and tells him to obey his king. Oz and Theodora jump into a carriage and are whisked away to the Emerald City; however, Finley hobbles along with the heavy bag, begging to be let in the carriage. Inside the city Theodora introduces Oz to her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) ― a young brunette witch with a green sapphire necklace around her neck. Both wise and beautiful, Evanora looks at Oz with skepticism. She and Theodora take him to the throne room, which Oz treats with little reverence. Evanora chides the gullible Theodora for believing that Oz was the wizard from the prophecy, but agrees to humor Oz until she can fully prove that he's a fraud.
Evanora takes Oz to the King's vault: a massive chamber overflowing with gold and riches, all property of the King of Oz. Oz excitedly dives into the piles of gold while the ever skeptical Evanora look on; he examines all the different golden objects, laughing in joy at having such marvelous things. She reminds Oz that the vault is the property of the King of Oz, which he will be only when he kills the Wicked Witch. Oz, realizing that his Kingship comes with strings attached, drops the gold and begins to believe that he'll never be king. Evanora soothes him and explains that killing the Wicked Witch won't be difficult. All that's required is breaking her wand, the source of her magic; break the wand, kill the witch, that's it. Bolstered by this new found information, Oz readies himself to go find the witch. However, not wanting to kill, Oz simply decides to steal the wand and leave the Wicked Witch defenseless.
With Finley in tow, Oz heads off to the dark woods to find and kill the Wicked Witch. Along the way the pair happens across a recently devastated town. The entire city is made of porcelain: porcelain houses which look like gigantic teapots, porcelain trees, and porcelain residents. It's all too spooky. They hear crying inside of one of the few still-standing houses. Inside they find a tiny, young porcelain girl who, after the attack, was broken. Her legs were separated from her body, and she's unable to move. Oz comforts the China Girl (Joey King) and produces, from his bag, a small bottle of instant-dry glue. He repairs her shattered legs and helps her get to her feet. She happily thanks Oz and Finley and tags along with them on their journey. The trio comes to a fork in the road; turn left for the Emerald City, turn right for the dark woods. Oz tells the China Girl to walk to the Emerald City and tell Evanora that she is a friend of Oz. The China Girl throws a fit, and refuses to leave Oz as her family and friends are broken and dead, and he's the only friend she's got. Oz allows the China Girl to follow them to the dark woods.
The Dark Woods are frightening. Twisted, violent plants try to impale the trio as they make their way deeper into the forest. They finally come to a cemetery and see a dark, hooded figure trying to enter. They quickly realize that the figure must be the Wicked Witch, and watch as the figure carefully places its wand onto a pile of boxes nearby. While Finley distracts the figure, Oz sneaks over to the wand, takes it and is about to break it in two when a soothing voice stops him. The hooded figure unveils herself, revealing a beautiful blonde face beneath it, identical to Annie (Michelle Williams). She introduces herself as Glinda and explains that the true Wicked Witch is back at the Emerald City. Evanora, years ago, sought to rule Oz by herself and killed their father, the King, so she could rule uncontested. When rumors swelled that the Wizard of Oz would return and take his place as King, Evanora vowed to never let that happen. She'd trick the Wizard into killing the sister who opposed her, Glinda, and then kill the Wizard herself so that she could rule Oz forever. When Glinda learned of Evanora's treachery, she left the Emerald City and spent every day at her father, the King's, grave. Back in Emerald City Evanora watches, in her crystal ball, as her plans to kill Glinda failed. Angered, Evanora sends out her armies to stop and kill Oz and Glinda. Back in the graveyard, the quartet of Oz, Glinda, Finley, and China Girl hear the stomping of boots approaching. Evanora's army marches through the graveyard, intent to kill them. Glinda pleads with Oz to do something magical to stop the army and Oz, being nothing more than a con man illusionist, asks her to care of it. She takes her wand and draws thick fog out of the ground, blinding the army of Winkies and baboons. The quartet finds themselves at the end of a cliff, hanging over a bottomless pit and Glinda, with no other option, leaps off the cliff. With the army quickly approaching Finley, China Girl, and finally Oz fall after her. The four appear, moments later in gigantic floating soap bubbles, which send them flying miles away. In the distance, Oz sees and inquires about a small city encapsulated within a giant, soapy bubble. Gilda explains that the bubble is a protective barrier, which keeps out anybody with evil or malcontent in their heart. Oz, being both slightly evil and malicious himself, fears that he won't be able to get through. Glinda, Finley, and China Girl easily glide through the bubble barrier, but Oz, after bouncing off the of barrier a few times, is finally able to squeak through.
In Emerald City, Evanora is not pleased with Oz and Glinda escaping her grasp. Theodora enters, asking her where Oz has gone. This gives Evanora a brilliant idea, she shows Theodora her crystal ball, which shows Oz and Glinda together. Theodora is left confused by this, wondering why Oz hasn't killed Glinda yet. Evanora magically produces a music box identical to the one Oz gave Theodora, saying Oz offered her the chance to be queen when he rules. Theodora, upon seeing the music box, is hurt by Oz's presumed betrayal and returns to her room. She sits in front of her vanity mirror and cries. Her tears are like acid, etching permanent burns into her skin. Angry with herself for falling in love with someone who betrayed her, Theodora says it's what she deserves.
Glinda introduces Oz to the people of the quaint city within the bubble: farmers, tinkerers, munchkins, etc. They all live in innocent, unspoiled happiness and are very excited to meet and hear from the wizard of myth and prophecy. Oz, now convinced that his rouse has gone too far takes Glinda aside and explains that he is not a real magician. He's a fake, a charlatan, an illusionist who can't perform real magic. Glinda, to Oz's surprise, admits that she knows. She knew from the moment she first met him, but just because she knows doesn't mean that the townspeople need to. With this new information, Oz puts on a show of confidence, convincing the townspeople that he is the wizard they hoped would return to destroy the Wicked Witch.
Theodora's anger at Oz is at a boiling point, as is evidenced by her severely disfigured, acid-burnt face. Evanora, now in total control of Theodora convinces Theodora to follow along with her plan and become more powerful than any wizard ever. Evanora produces a small green apple and tells Theodora that it will remove her heartache. She bites the apple, suddenly realizing that her sister is the true Wicked Witch. However, she then begins acting as those she's in pain, demanding to know what the apple is doing to her. Evanora explains that it's only Theodora's heart withering away; soon she'll feel nothing but beautiful wickedness. Theodora sees visions of Oz laughing as she keels over near a fireplace; a table blocks Evanora's view of her. The moment Theodora falls, the fireplace's flames kick up. Evanora calls to her, worried that she may have killed her sister instead. To her surprise, a green-skinned arm reaches up and grabs the table. Evanora flatly explains Theodora is now hideous, making her sister examine herself; she offers to cast an enchantment to make her look as she did before. However, Theodora tells her not to as this is what she is now; Oz has to see what he's turned her into. Theodora takes her ruby-colored hat, transforming it into a black brimmed hat and puts it on. Evanora can only look on in shock as her sister laughs maniacally; she may have just made Theodora even more wicked than herself.
A mysterious storm cloud appears over Glinda and Oz's town. A red-hot light at the center of the cloud pounds against the "impenetrable" bubble surrounding the town. The cloud pounds against the bubble again and again until it breaks like an egg. The red-hot light beams into the city, landing like a meteor in the town square. A glowing evil figure emerges from the crater ― it's Theodora, transfigured into a green-skinned, black-suited old witch. She confronts Oz, and explains that she has become a truly Wicked Witch because of his treachery. She steals a broom from a townsperson and rides away, leaving a trail of black smoke behind her. Amidst the chaos, Glinda searches for Oz, but finds that he's run off. She confronts him in his quarters, where he's quickly packing his bags for a hasty escape. Glinda tries giving Oz the confidence to believe in himself, and to look past the fact that he's not a real wizard. Through soul-searching, Oz formulates a plan. He tells Glinda to gather the town's smartest and strongest. Oz meets with the town's Master Tinker (Bill Cobbs) and his men, the appointed scientists of the city, and together they plan an illusion to trick Theodora and Evanora. Under Oz's guidance the townspeople create elaborate mechanisms for the show. Oz shows the tinkers how to create a movie projector, how to create black powder, and finally how to build a hot-air balloon. Oz asks the head Tinker to keep the balloon a secret. He and Glinda, together, form a battle plan. They look at a map of the Emerald City and its outlying areas. Oz suggests that they enter the city through the Poppy fields, but Glinda explains that the poppy fields will put anyone who breaths in their spores, into an inescapable deep sleep. Oz thinks of a way to use this to their advantage. Finally, Glinda reveals that she has a contact to get them into the city unnoticed. Knuck, AKA Sour puss, appears and reveals himself to be their inside man.
The assault on Emerald City begins. Oz, along with Knuck and other munchkins, disguise themselves and sneak passed an unwitting Winkie Gate Keeper (Bruce Campbell). They sneak the carriage, filled with the projection equipment and Oz's balloon, into the city. As soon as they pass through the gate, Oz separates himself from the group, with the balloon, and sneaks up to the King's vault, and begins loading gold. Down below, Finley, Knuck, and the Master Tinker see Oz has betrayed them, in favor of escaping with a balloon full of gold, but continue with the plan. At the edge of the city Glinda covers the landscape with a thick fog. Theodora and Evanora, distracted by the thick blanket of fog, watch as an army of soldiers stomps through the fog, toward the city. The witches send out their entire army of baboons to stop the incoming force. The baboons tear-into the soldiers, but are shocked to find that they're full of hay. The fog dissipates, revealing the soldiers are mechanical scarecrows, built by the townspeople, and to make matters worse, the fog was covering the poppy field. Almost all of the baboons fall into a deep sleep, leaving the city defenseless. The townspeople disappear back into the woods as a few conscience baboons go after them. Glinda is taken hostage by a pair of them, dropping her wand; she is taken into the center of the city. Evanora searches the grass for the wand, but thanks to the China Girl, is unable to find it. Evanora flies back into the city, and at its center is met by Theodora. The pair stand on either side of Glinda, who has been chained to a pair of posts. The angry citizens watch on in horror as Evanora tortures Glinda with lightning. Above them, Oz's balloon appears. Evanora points at the balloon, and exposes Oz as a greedy fraud, trying to escape with the town's riches instead of defending the town as the prophecy foretold. Evanora angrily shoots fire at the hot air balloon, exploding it, and sending the riches crashing down to the ground in a giant plume of black smoke.
Glinda, shocked by Oz's death, cries, and prepares to die. Suddenly a booming voice echoes throughout the city and Oz's ghostly face appears on the plume of smoke. He explains shedding his mortal body was necessary to become the true Wizard of Oz, and that he is now immortal & all-powerful. Evanora and Theodora are speechless. They fire lightning and fireballs into Oz's ghostly facade, but they do nothing. Secretly, Oz, Knuck, Finley, and the Master Tinker sit huddled in the caravan at the center of the city, projecting a moving image onto the black smoke, putting-on a spectacular illusion. While distracted, the China Girl sneaks Glinda her wand and manages to break her free. Upon finding Glinda gone, the townspeople turning on her, and a massive floating head in the sky, Evanora escapes into the castle, leaving Theodora to deal with the town by herself. Theodora angrily calls her sister a coward, since she had always been called the weak one. Soon Oz, and the townspeople, rain fireworks down onto Theodora, forcing her to escape on her broom. Right before Theodora leaves the Emerald City, Oz tells her that he knows her wickedness isn't her doing, and that if she can ever find goodness in her heart again, she is more than welcome to come back to the Emerald City. However, Theodora shrieks a defiant "Never!" before taking off to the West.
Evanora, inside the castle, is confronted by Glinda seated in her father's throne. Evanora shoots lightning at Glinda, but Glinda deflects the attacks with her wand. The fight starts on the ground but ends in the air. Evanora grabs Glinda by the throat, and Glinda grasps at Evanora's chest. Their attacks rebound off one another and the two land, painfully, on the ground. Evanora prepares to deliver the killing blow, but lacks the magic to do so. She reaches for her neck, the emerald necklace that had been around it, the source of her power, is gone; shattered into a thousand pieces on the ground, under Glinda. Evanora suddenly keels over. Her beautiful features disappear. Her nails grow long and dirty, her skin becomes wrinkled and liver-spotted, and an old hag appears in her place. The old, true Evanora lunges at Glinda, but Glinda, with wand in hand, repels her attack and sends her flying through the castle window. She's caught by a pair of flying baboons and carried off into the distance, toward the East.
The Emerald City, now freed of tyranny, celebrates. Glinda walks into the throne room and is greeted by the smokey visage of Oz, hovering over the throne. Finley latches the door. China Girl and Knuck close the curtains and once the coast is clear, Master Tinker switches-off the mechanism and out steps Oz, in the flesh. As thanks for their exemplary work, Oz gives each of them a gift. To Master Tinker, he gives a swiss-army knife, complete with a fork and spoon. To Knuck, AKA Sour Puss, he gives a novelty mask with a smile painted on it; China Girl says he looks better with a smile. To Finley he gives his top hat and friendship, and to China Girl he offers themselves as her new family. Finally, to Glinda, he takes her behind the curtain and plants a giant kiss on her.
Oz the Great and Powerful features several allusions and parallels to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The film starts in black and white 4:3 Full Screen, and within 22 minutes into the movie, transitioning into color when the protagonist arrives in Oz; additionally, the aspect ratio changes from 4:3 to 2.35:1 widescreen. As in the 1939 film, Glinda travels in giant bubbles, and the Emerald City is actually emerald – in the novel, characters wore tinted glasses to make it appear so. The iconic green look of the Wicked Witch of the West is close to her look in the classic film, while the novel's Witch was a short, one-eyed crone. The Wicked Witches are portrayed as sisters – an idea which originated in the 1939 film. Several actors who play Oz characters make cameos in the Kansas segments. One such character, Annie (Michelle Williams), informs Oscar that she has been proposed to by a John Gale, presumably hinting at Dorothy Gale's parental lineage.
The film also features allusions to L. Frank Baum's original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow, who is built by the townspeople as a scare tactic; the Tin Man, whose creator is introduced as the Master Tinker; and the Cowardly Lion, who is frightened away by Oscar after attacking Finley. Similarly, various other races of Oz are depicted besides the Munchkins (the only race named in the classic film), including the Winkies, the Quadlings, and the china doll inhabitants of Dainty China Country. Theodora's tears leave scars on her face, foreshadowing her weakness to water. Also, Glinda refers to herself as the Witch of the South (as was her title in the novel); this differs from the classic film, where her title is Glinda the Good Witch of the North (as her character is combined with the Good Witch of the North).
Similarities to The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Anyone who's seen the original "Wizard of Oz" can probably sketch the general look of the enchanted Emerald City on a cocktail napkin without having to think about it too hard. But the new "Oz the Great and Powerful" had to be careful with how closely the city of Oz looked to the original. The resulting city has a bold new design that is also, oddly, familiar. It's like halfway between Coruscant from the "Star Wars" prequels and some kind of steam punk videogame. In short: it's both old and new (again). (Information from Moviefone)
These are the similarities from The Wizard of Oz than can be briefly seen in Oz the Great and Powerful.
- Oz being swept away by a Tornado from Black and White Kansas to Vibrant and Colorful Land of Oz.
- Actors/Actresses being seen in Kansas but again seen in The Land of Oz as their Counterpart.
- In a scene we see a Lion attacking Finley but quickly being scared away by Oz's trick. (Representing the existence of the "Cowardly Lion")
- In a scene where Glinda is showing Oz the army that could help him defeat the Wicked Witches we hear one of them saying that they are able to create Scarecrows. (Representing the existence of "The Scarecrow")
- There are Tinkers. (Representing the existence of "The Tin Man")
- In the one of the first scenes of the movie we hear Annie saying she was proposed to by "John Gale" hinting Dorothy's Parental Lineage
- When Evanora commanded the Flying Monkeys to kill the Wizard she screamed FLY!!! (Representing why "The Wicked Witch of the West" screams this when she commands the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz though Evanora is "The Wicked Witch of the East")
- Like in "The Wizard of Oz: Evanora uses red powder for some evil things. (though she is the "The Wicked Witch of The East" "The Wicked Witch of The West does this in "The Wizard of Oz")
- Like in the Original film Oz always gives away gifts to his friends in the end.
- Like in the Original "Glinda" travels through a bubble but then reveals that "Bubbles are just for show".
- Like in the Original there is a magic ball.
- In the film it is shown that when "Theodora" cries the tears leaves scars to her face revealing her defeat in "The Wizard of Oz" as "The Wicked Witch of the West".
- In the "Wizard of Oz" while "The Wicked Witch of West" is melting she screams "WHO THOUGHT A GIRL LIKE YOU COULD DESTROY MY BEAUTIFUL WICKEDNESS!", That's because while "Theodora" was becoming "Wicked" Evanora said that she'll feel nothing but "Beautiful Wickedness". (Pointing her use of the word during her defeat)
- During the scene where Oscar and Finley are walking on the yellow brick road, you can see different colored horses in the background.
- James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the film's main protagonist who becomes the Wizard of Oz. He is a womanizing con artist and stage magician who is part of a traveling circus in the Midwest. He is whisked in a hot air balloon by a tornado to the Land of Oz, where he is believed to be a wizard destined to bring peace to the land, forcing him to overcome his dubious ethics to convince his peers he is the hero needed by the people of Oz.
- Mila Kunis plays Theodora the Wicked Witch of the West. She is a beautiful yet naïve witch who starts out as having the Land of Oz's best interests at heart, and believes that Oscar is the wizard prophesied to defeat the seemingly evil Glinda, developing an attraction to him in the process. Evanora gradually tricks Theodora into thinking Oscar has betrayed her for Glinda, ushering her transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West.
- Rachel Weisz plays Evanora the Wicked Witch of the East. She is the protector of the Emerald City and former advisor to the original king of Oz, whose murder she has committed prior to the events of the film – the crime she has framed his daughter Glinda for committing. Being a Wicked Witch, she has a hideous form which she hides by wearing a necklace that gives her the appearance of a stunning young woman. It is implied that she is the Wicked Witch of the East.
- Michelle Williams plays Glinda the Good Witch of the South. She rules and protects a peaceful kingdom in Oz inhabited by kind farmers, tinkers, and Munchkins. Through Evanora's manipulations, however, the other people of Oz believe her to be the Wicked Witch responsible for terrorizing the land. She guides Oscar to achieve his destiny of defeating Evanora after he learns the truth, becoming his love interest as well.
- Zach Braff provides the voice of Finley, a winged monkey who pledges an irrevocable life debt to Oscar, believing him to be the Wizard of Oz, for saving him from the Cowardly Lion. He quickly comes to regret his decision when Oscar reveals he is not a wizard, but nonetheless becomes his loyal ally.
- He also plays Frank, Oscar's long-suffering yet loyal magic assistant in Kansas.
- Joey King provides the voice of China Girl, a young, living china doll from China Town where everything, including its inhabitants, is made of china. Her home is destroyed by the Wicked Witch, leaving her its only survivor when she is found by Oscar, with whom she forms a strong friendship.
- She also plays a wheelchair-bound girl in the audience of Oscar's magic show in Kansas.
- Tim Holmes plays the strongman who attacks Oscar for trying to court his wife, prompting Oscar to take the hot air balloon that sends him to the Land of Oz.
- Bill Cobbs plays the Master Tinker, the leader of the tinkers ruled by Glinda. He is also implied to be the same tinsmith who builds the Tin Woodman.
- Tony Cox plays Knuck, the herald and fanfare player of Emerald City who is allied with Glinda.
- Abigail Spencer plays May, Oscar's temporary magic assistant in Kansas and one of his several fleeting loves in the film.
- Stephen R. Hart and Bruce Campbell play Winkie guards at the Emerald City.
Raimi, who often casts friends and actor-regulars in cameo roles, cast his brother Ted Raimi as a small-town skeptic at a magic show who yells, "I see a wire!"; Jim Moll, his former theater teacher at Birmingham Groves High School, as Townsperson No. 10; and the "Ladies of the Evil Dead" — actresses Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, and Theresa Seyferth a.k.a. Theresa Tilly a.k.a. Sarah York from Raimi's The Evil Dead as three Quadling townspeople.
Disney's history with Oz
After the successful release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt Disney planned to produce an animated film based on the first of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Roy O. Disney, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, was informed by Baum's estate that they had sold the film rights to the first book to Samuel Goldwyn, who re-sold it to Louis B. Mayer in 1938. The project was developed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer into the well-known musical adaptation starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton, released the following year.
In 1954, when the film rights to Baum's remaining thirteen Oz books were made available, Walt Disney Productions acquired them for use in Walt Disney's television series Disneyland and the live-action film Rainbow Road to Oz, which was abandoned and never completed. Disney's history with the Oz series continued with the 1985 Return to Oz. That film performed poorly, both critically and commercially, but developed a cult following since its release. After Return to Oz, Disney lost the film rights to the Oz books and they were subsequently reverted to the public domain.
Screenwriter Mitchel Kapner was intrigued by the prospect of exploring the origins of the Wizard of Oz character after reading the sixth novel in the series The Emerald City of Oz. Producer Joe Roth became involved for nearly the same reason as Kapner, stating that "...during the years that I spent running Walt Disney Studios ― I learned about how hard it was to find a fairy tale with a good strong male protagonist. You've got your Sleeping Beauties, your Cinderellas and your Alices. But a fairy tale with a male protagonist is very hard to come by. But with the origin story of the Wizard of Oz, here was a fairy tale story with a natural male protagonist. Which is why I knew that this was an idea for a movie that was genuinely worth pursuing." Kapner and co-writer Palak Patel presented the idea to Sony Pictures but were turned down. In 2009, the project was set up at Walt Disney Pictures when the studio commissioned Oz the Great and Powerful under the working title Brick during the tenure of then Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, who was succeeded by Rich Ross and later Alan Horn, an unusual trait for a major studio release to survive such shifts in management. David Lindsay-Abaire was later hired, replacing Patel who was reassigned as executive producer.
Roth initially sought out Robert Downey Jr. for the titular role of the Wizard in April 2010. By summer of that year, Sam Raimi was hired to direct the film from a shortlist that reportedly included directors Sam Mendes and Adam Shankman. In January 2011, Raimi met with Downey, but did not secure his casting. While no specific reasons were given, the director mentioned seeing a neglected plant in the actor's home that had been given as a goodwill gesture from Raimi, but declined to explain further. With Downey's disinterest acknowledged, Johnny Depp was then approached due to his previous collaboration with the studio in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Alice in Wonderland. Depp liked the role but declined involvement, citing his commitment to another Disney tentpole film, The Lone Ranger. The film was without a lead until February when James Franco entered final negotiations to star in the film (including a $7 million salary), five months before filming was scheduled to begin. Franco and Raimi had previously worked together on the Spider-Man trilogy. Franco received training with magician Lance Burton to prepare for the role.
Screenwriter Mitchell Kapner adopted information about the Wizard from L. Frank Baum's novels to conceptualize an original story. Raimi made sure that the film would also "nod lovingly" to the 1939 film and inserted several references and homages to that film. Disney wanted to reduce the film's production budget to be approximately $200 million. In June 2011, composer Danny Elfman was chosen to score Oz the Great and Powerful, despite Elfman and Raimi having a falling-out over Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Elfman declaring that they would never again work together. Casting calls were put out for local actors in Michigan.
Principal photography for Oz the Great and Powerful began July 25, 2011, at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac, Michigan, employing 3D cameras. Raimi opted to use practical sets in conjunction with computer-generated imagery during filming. Physical sets were constructed so the actors could have a visual reference, as opposed to using green screen technology for every scene. Chroma key compositing was only used for background pieces. Zach Braff and Joey King were on set, recording their dialogue simultaneously with the other actors, whenever their CG characters were present in a scene. Puppetry was employed for a physical version of the China Girl to serve as a visual key-point for actors to manipulate. Braff wore a blue motion capture suit to create Finley's movements and had a camera close to his face for the flying sequences to obtain facial movements. Braff wore a blue motion capture suit to create Finley's movements and had a camera close to his face for the flying sequences to obtain facial movements.
Art director Robert Stromberg, who worked on Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, drew inspiration from the films of Frank Capra and James Wong Howe to achieve the Art Deco design he envisioned for the Emerald City. Stromberg contrasted the colorful tonal qualities of Oz with the restrained appearance of Alice, affirming that although both films explore similar fantasy worlds, the overall atmosphere and landscape of each "are completely different." In 2011, Stromberg and his team visited the Walt Disney Archives during the pre-production phase to reference production art from Disney's animated films such as Pinocchio, Bambi, Fantasia, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, drawing from designs and textures; in order to give certain settings in the film an affectionate nod to the classic Disney style. Costume designer Gary Jones focused on authenticity with his wardrobe designs, "We started by doing a lot of research and having ideas of the ways (costumes) should look in order to be (historically accurate) but as we went on, we really began creating a whole new world."
The production team worked under the constraint of abiding by the stipulations set forth by Warner Bros., the owner of the rights to iconic elements of the 1939 MGM film (via its Turner Entertainment division), including the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland. Therefore, Disney was unable to use them nor any character likenesses from that particular film. This extended to the green of the Wicked Witch's skin, for which Disney used what its legal department considered a sufficiently different shade dubbed "Theostein" (a portmanteau of "Theodora" and "Frankenstein"; nor could the studio use the signature chin mole of Margaret Hamilton's portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West nor could they employ the yellow brick road's swirl design for Munchkinland.
In addition to the legal issues, the film was also faced with delays when several cast members went on hiatus due to unrelated commitments and circumstances. Rachel Weisz left halfway through the shoot to film her entire role in The Bourne Legacy, Michelle Williams was required to promote the release of My Week with Marilyn, and Franco's father died during production. Roth compared the task of managing overlapping schedules to "being an air-traffic controller." Mila Kunis's makeup and prosthetics demanded four hours to apply and another hour to remove, with Kunis taking nearly two months to fully recover from the subsequent removal of the makeup from her skin.
Raimi had to edit the frightening nature of several scenes to secure Disney's desired PG rating from the MPAA. Sony Pictures Imageworks was contracted to create the film's special effects and CG animation.
Composer Danny Elfman noted that the film's score was accessibly quick to produce, with a majority of the music being written in six weeks. Regarding the tonal quality of the score, Elfman stated, "We're going to take an approach that's old school but not self-consciously old-fashioned. Let the melodrama be melodrama, let everything be what it is. I also think there's the advantage that I'm able to write narratively, and when I'm able to write narratively I can also move quicker because that's my natural instincts, I can tell a story in the music."
American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey recorded a new original song titled "Almost Home" written by Carey, Simone Porter, Justin Gray, Lindsey Ray, Tor Erik Hermansen, and Mikkel Eriksen (a.k.a. Stargate) for the soundtrack of the film and the second half of the closing credits. The single was released on February 19, 2013 by Island Records.
The original soundtrack to Oz the Great and Powerful was released digitally, and physically (With Intrada Records) by Walt Disney Records on March 5, 2013.
In May 2011, before filming began, Walt Disney Pictures gave Oz the Great and Powerful a March 8, 2013 North American theatrical release date. The film had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood on February 14, 2013. Disney opened the film in wide release in 3,912 theaters.
To promote the film, Disney partnered with the IMAX Corporation and HSN to coordinate a hot air balloon campaign across the United States beginning in California at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, stopping at four locations; the El Capitan Theater during the world premiere, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, the Daytona International Speedway in Florida and Central Park in New York City. Disney also promoted the film through its theme parks; Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival featured a multi-purpose garden and play area themed to the film and Disney California Adventure hosted sample viewings inside the Muppet*Vision 3D theatre.
Oz the Great and Powerful was released on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on June 11, 2013.
Oz the Great and Powerful received mixed to positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes compiled a "Fresh" score of 60% based on 228 reviews and a rating average of 6 out of 10; its consensus is, "It suffers from some tonal inconsistency and a deflated sense of wonder, but Oz the Great and Powerful still packs enough visual dazzle and clever wit to be entertaining in its own right." The film was liked by 63% of the audience with an average score of 3.5/5 from 127,198 users. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 44% based on 42 reviews. IMDB has the film at a 6.8/10 from 53,101 users.
Kim Newman, writing for Empire, gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and said, "If there are post-Harry Potter children who don't know or care about The Wizard Of Oz, they might be at sea with this story about a not-very-nice grownup in a magic land, but long-term Oz watchers will be enchanted and enthralled... Mila Kunis gets a gold star for excellence in bewitchery and Sam Raimi can settle securely behind the curtain as a mature master of illusion." Critic Alonso Duralde also admired the movie: "That Oz the Great and Powerful is so thoroughly effective both on its own terms and as a prequel to one of the most beloved movies ever made indicates that this team has magic to match any witch or wizard." IGN rated the film 7.8 and said, "The film is expansive and larger-than-life in scope and so are the performances, overall. Franco in particular hams it up and is often playing to the balcony...The 3D is utilized just as it should be in an children's fantasy epic such as this – overtly, but with skill. Snowflakes, music boxes and mysterious animals all leap through the screen towards the audience as the story unfolds." Entertainment Weekly agreed, giving the film a C+ and saying that the "miscast" Franco "lacks the humor, charm, and gee-whiz wonder we're meant to feel as he trades wisecracks with a flying monkey... and soars above a field of poppies in a giant soap bubble. If he's not enchanted, how are we supposed to be?" and complaining that "while [Raimi's] Oz is like retinal crack, he never seduces our hearts and minds." Alisha Coelho of in.com gave the movie 2.5 stars, saying "Oz The Great and Powerful doesn't leave a lasting impression, but is an a-ok watch."
Justin Chang of Variety had a mixed reaction, writing that the film "gets some mileage out of its game performances, luscious production design and the unfettered enthusiasm director Sam Raimi brings to a thin, simplistic origin story." He also compared the film's scale with the Star Wars prequel trilogy adding, "In a real sense, Oz the Great and Powerful has a certain kinship with George Lucas' Star Wars prequels, in the way it presents a beautiful but borderline-sterile digital update of a world that was richer, purer, and a lot more fun in lower-tech form. Here, too, the actors often look artificially superimposed against their CG backdrops, though the intensity of the fakery generates its own visual fascination." /Film rated the film 7 out of 10, saying it had "many charms" while considering it to be "basically Army of Darkness: (Normal guy lands in magical land, is forced to go on quest to save that land.) But just when you see [Raimi's] kinetic, signature style starting to unleash, the story forces the film back into its Disney shell to play to the masses. We're left with a film that's entertaining, a little scarier than you'd expect, but extremely inconsistent."
Richard Roeper noted the film's omnipresent visual effects but was largely disappointed by the performance of some cast members; "...to see Williams so bland and sugary as Glinda, and Kunis so flat and ineffectual as the heartsick Theodora..." Marshall Fine of The Huffington Post was unimpressed, writing, "Oh, it's exciting enough for a six-year-old; anyone older, however, will already have been exposed to so much on TV, at the movies and on the Internet that this will seem like so much visual cotton-candy. Even a sophisticated grade-schooler will find these doings weak and overblown." Similarly, Todd McCarthy criticized the characterization, writing that the film's supporting cast "can't begin to compare with their equivalents in the original... so the burden rests entirely upon Franco and Williams, whose dialogue exchanges are repetitive and feel tentative".
Oz the Great and Powerful has earned $234,911,825 in the United States and Canada, and $258,400,000 in other countries for a worldwide total of $493,311,825. Worldwide, it was the thirteenth highest-grossing film of 2013. Calculating in all expenses, Deadline.com estimated that the film made a profit of $36.4 million
Preliminary reports had the film tracking for an $80-$100 million debut in North America. The movie earned $2 million from 9 p.m. showings on Thursday night. For its opening day, Oz the Great and Powerful grossed $24.1 million, the fourth-highest March opening day. During its opening weekend, the movie topped the box office with $79.1 million, the third-highest March opening weekend. Despite the film's solid debut, which was larger than nearly all comparable titles, it clearly lagged behind Alice in Wonderland's opening ($116.1 million). The film's 3-D share of the opening weekend was 53%. Females made up 52% of the audience. Surprisingly, though, families only represented 41% of attendance, while couples accounted for 43%. The film retained first place at the box office during its second weekend with $41.3 million.
Outside North America, the film earned $69.9 million on its opening weekend from 46 territories. Among all markets, its highest-grossing debuts were achieved in Russia and the CIS ($14.7 million), China ($9.06 million), and France and the Maghreb region ($5.77 million). The film's openings trailed Alice in Wonderland in all major markets except Russia and the CIS. It retained first place at the box office outside North America for a second weekend. In total grosses, Oz's largest countries are Russia and the CIS ($27.3 million), China ($25.5 million) and the UK, Ireland and Malta ($22.3 million).
While widely expected to come close to the billion-plus worldwide box office success of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (2010) in pre-release media coverage (CBS news stated: "'Oz' could follow in the footsteps of Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland,' another costly 3-D film, which opened on the same weekend in 2010 and went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide."), "Oz - the Great and Powerful" ended up with less than half that film's worldwide box office take. Despite a larger budget and similarly famous literary pedigree and 3D surcharges, "Oz" in fact performed closer to Disney's "disappointment" from 2010, "Tron Legacy" - as "Oz" nears the end of its worldwide box office release, the film is still short of $500m, a number closer to the $400m worldwide take of "Tron: Legacy" than to the over $1bn take of "Alice."
Interestingly, as of May 1st, 2013, and nearing the end of its worldwide box office run, "Oz the Great and Powerful" has earned just $200m more worldwide than Disney's notorious box office disaster of 2012, "John Carter." "John Carter" had earned $282,778,100 - a difference of just over $200m.
On March 7, 2013, Variety confirmed that Disney has already approved plans for a sequel film, with Mitchel Kapner returning as screenwriter. Mila Kunis said during an interview with E! News, "We're all signed on for sequels." On March 8, 2013, Sam Raimi told Bleeding Cool that he has no plans to direct the sequel, saying, "I did leave some loose ends for another director if they want to make the picture," and that "I was attracted to this story but I don't think the second one would have the thing I would need to get me interested."
- This was Disney's second theatrical film to be based on the Oz novels by L. Frank Baum.
- There is a cameo of the rainbow horses in the background in the scene where Oz is walking along the Yellow Brick Road with Finley.
- This is the first movie to have the cut-short Roth Films and Disney (Closing) logos shown after the closing credits at the end.
- There was the Disney logo variation at the beginning of this movie: "We fade from black to reveal animated stars in black and white. (The film starts in 4:3 Full Screen.) Then, the camera drops and zooms slowly down to reveal the shadow of the castle and the fireworks explode differently. The castle is the same as the genetic logo. The "Disney" text is already here, but it was cut out paper made with two sticks. After the camera gets in place, the glowing pinpoint arcs over the top of the castle. Then, the camera zooms to the entrance of the castle, as "Disney" flip to separate into two (Like opening gates,) and go inside to start the opening credits to the movie."
- At the beginning of the opening credits, the still shot of the current logo used as the background.