11:01am PT by Erin Carlson
Photo of James Franco in 'Oz: The Great and Powerful' Surfaces
With many months to go before James Franco hits the big screen in Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful, a promotional campaign has apparently begun in Italy.
The James Franco Forever fan site has posted an Italian ad for the film that shows Franco as the Wizard of Oz -- with a top hat, slightly anguished expression and hot air balloon in the background.
Oz: The Great and Powerful is an origin story about the wizard who runs the Emerald City -- and is far less powerful than its residents, and Dorothy for that matter, are led to believe. In Raimi's prequel to the L. Frank Baum classic, the would-be Oz is a young illusionist with a grandiose attitude who is forced to flee a traveling circus. His hot air balloon is swept up by a tornado to the land of Oz, which is overseen by magical wicked witches.
The movie, slated for release on March 8, 2013, co-stars Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff and Abigail Breslin.
Franco, who recently premiered his experimental film Francophrenia at the Tribeca Film Festival, took over the role after Robert Downey Jr. dropped out and Johnny Depp passed on the part.