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Depp May Replace Downey in 'Oz' Prequel

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Jan 20, 2011 | 8:00am EST

Johnny DeppBoy have I got a surprise for you if you've managed not to see any movie since 2003 when Johnny Depp started dressing up as the rockstar and perhaps bi-curious king of all pirates, Jack Sparrow. Disney is prepping a semi-prequel to The Wizard of Oz called Oz, the Great and Powerful (no offense, Mouse-house, but I'd seek a title change) and their great hope, Robert Downey Jr. is no longer in the game. Of course, because Depp has become lord of crazy caricatures in the last decade and because he was the only good part of Alice In Wonderland outside of the fantastical visuals and because he singlehandedly took the Pirates of The Caribbean movies from seaworthy fun to an iconic, albeit sometimes rocky, set of movies, Disney is seeking his hand as the lead in Oz.

Sam Raimi is set to direct the tale of the Wizard of Oz before he became the wizard. The story finds the man who would be the wizard as a young man (although I think it's pushing it to call Depp a young man) fleeing a traveling circus. He of course takes a hot air balloon to escape, is sidetracked by a tornado that lands him smack dab in the Land of Oz - hey, isn't that what happened to Dorothy? Yep, pretty much, except instead of taking a hot air balloon, she took a nap. Of course, the land is run by two witches, but instead of one good and one bad, both are wicked.

Obviously Disney hopes that Depp will return to their world with more of his grandiose, flamboyant style that made him a favorite in so many other family-friendly ventures (like Alice and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory), but the timing may keep him from falling down that rabbit hole. He's got The Lone Ranger, for Disney as well, setting up production around the same time, so committing to Oz could mean pushing the entire production of The Lone Ranger back. Disney loves Depp so we may see that happening, but it could be a problem for everyone else involved with the production whose schedules may not permit the shift. Who knows at this point; Disney places a lot of stock in Depp so he may be the determining factor rather than his cast mates.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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