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Downey Jr. to play Wizard of Oz?

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Apr 21, 2010 | 5:00am EDT

The original 1939 movie, starring Judy Garland, became a cinematic classic, while another film based on L. Frank Baum's books, Return To Oz, was released by Disney in 1985.

Now movie-makers are preparing to return to the Emerald City on the big screen in a new picture about the wonderful wizard, titled Oz The Great and Powerful.

The film will be a prequel to the Garland movie, based on Baum's work, and will tell the story of a young circus magician who ends up ruler of the magical country after crash-landing there in a hot air balloon.

Mendes, whose work on the next Bond film was put on hold indefinitely, is now in talks to direct the picture, while Downey Jr. has been lined up to play the wizard, according to Production Weekly.

The picture is one of a number of different Oz adaptations in the works, including a big screen version of hit stage musical Wicked, and Oz, which sees Dorothy's granddaughter sent to the Emerald City to "fight evil", according to the Los Angeles Times.

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