'Wizard of Oz' Author's Life Story Coming to the Big Screen (Exclusive)
New Line bought a spec script origins tale by Josh Golden
The man who brought to life the magical world of Oz is getting his own big-screen treatment.
New Line Cinema has preemptively scooped up spec script Road to Oz, written by hot rising talent Josh Golden. Beau Flynn will produce via his New Line-based FlynnPictureCo.
This is how hot Golden and Road to Oz are: The screenwriter and his script, which chronicles the early days of whimsical author L. Frank Baum, are finalists for the 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowships, which were announced earlier this week.
Baum was a prolific writer, known for the best-selling children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote 13 sequels to the hit book, which was famously adapted into the 1939 film starring Judy Garland (New Line's parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, owns the rights to that film). Other than the Oz series, Baum also wrote more than two dozen other books including Dot and Tot of Merryland, The Sea Fairies and Sky Island.
Baum's Oz tales have stood the test of time, with the 1939 film now a classic, perennially playing on screens and remaining a solid merchandising performer. Wicked, based on the story, is one of the Broadway's biggest hits. And Disney proved that the Oz world still works on the big screen with the 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful. Starring James Franco and Mila Kunis, the prequel was a box office smash, earning $493.3 million worldwide and having the 10th highest domestic box office gross of the year.
Movies about authors and the stories behind their most famous works tend to attract high-class talent. Finding Neverland saw Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, and scored six Oscar nominations. Last year's Saving Mr. Banks was also awards bait with a cast that included Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti.
Golden worked with Nellie Bellflower, who produced Finding Neverland, and Michael Mislove on developing the script. Bellflower and Mislove will now also produce Road to Oz with Flynn.
Scott Sheldon will oversee the project for FlynnPicture Co. Michael Disco and Sam Brown are shepherding it for New Line. The plan is to attach a director as soon as possible.
Golden is repped by Resolution. He'll find out if he received the Nicholls Fellowship when the winner is announced in October.