The panel for Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful with a bit of a sizzle reel dedicated to his previous films (although I couldn’t spot any scenes from The Gift). Raimi then comes on stage to talk about the eponymous character (played by James Franco). This is “the story of a selfish man”, explains Raimi. The Wizard is a lothario and cad who finds Oz to be, “a land of second chances.” The film is how he learns to be a selfless man. The story starts off with the Wizard as a carnival magician in Kansas. But he’s chased out of Kansas via air balloon escape and then gets swept up into Oz.
We were then shown a trailer, which Disney has now released online. There’s some impressive stuff, but I wish we had seen something to give us a better sense of the characters and tone. Going by the trailer, the film is going to be visually amazing. But I’ve seen a lot of visually amazing films. Oz the Great and Powerful has four terrific lead actors, and while this wasn’t a bad debut for the flick, I look forward to seeing more of what the film has to offer on the plot and character side.
After they showed the trailer, Michelle Williams (Glenda) and Mila Kunis (Theodora) were brought on stage. Williams said Glenda sees the good in everyone even when they can’t see it. Kunis said Theadora is the first character Oz meets. Kunis went on to say that she thought it was going to be all blue screen, but it wasn’t. What was in the foreground was physically on set. She added that she was seriously impressed by Glenda’s castle and the Emerald City, describing the sets as “magical.”
Here are some quick notes from the Q&A:
- Raimi confirms that Bruce Campbell is in the picture, although he wouldn’t say in what capacity. His classic car is in the film, but it had to go under major alterations, but the engine and cam shaft are in the flick as part of the Wizard’s machinery.
- Raimi said they never got the screenplay right on The Shadow, so he chose not to proceed with it.
- Great and Powerful takes elements from the second, third, and fourth L. Frank Baum books blended with new material, and then the final film nods “lovingly” to the 1939 film. However, they didn’t have permission to use original ideas from the MGM movie, so the ruby slippers won’t appear in the movie. Additionally, characters like Scarecrow and the Tin Man won’t be in the film because Great and Powerful is a prequel.
- Production designer Robert Stromberg and Raimi used Baum’s descriptions as a starting point to design the sets. Additionally, the 3D helped to create more detail in building a world we’ve never seen.
Final thoughts: this was one of those panels where I barely went in knowing more than I did when I went in. I understand Disney was in a crunch because the previous panel started late, and I’m sure that a lot of the individual scenes are unfinished because there’s so much effects work to do, but there simply wasn’t enough to leave much of an impression.