The Making Of the Wizard of Oz Prequel

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." | Source

L. Frank Baum wrote his series of Oz books beginning in 1899 and Walt Disney attempted to purchase the rights to the first - The Wizard of Oz - in 1937 in order to produce another classic animated film to follow Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney was unsuccessful, because the rights had already been sold and resold around Hollywood.

This was very frustrating. The Disney organization wanted to record all the children's classics as animated films.

It was not until 1954 that the rights to the remaining 13 Baum-Oz books were up for sale and Disney was able to purchase them. He bought them all. From out of these stories, Walt Disney Studios finally built the mozaic that became the prequel Oz, The Great and Powerful, released in March 2013 and 59 years after rights were obtained - 76 years after the attempt to purchase rights to the first book.

Some films take an awfully long time to reach the screen.

L. Frank Baum's Oz

Collecting all 14 or 15 volumes of Oz stories in original hardback editions is a difficult task. A friend of mine collected all of them over the course of 22 years and when she had secured the last one, she donated the rare set to an elementary school not far from her house. School officials placed the collection in the school library; I hope they are well maintained.

Electronically speaking, all the Baum books are easily available on Kindle and in reprints, although rare first edition hardbacks show up from time to time.

Politics and Society

Just as is the case with Alice In Wonderland, Flatland, and the more recent Escape From Planet Earth, many classic children's tales are filled with political and social commentary for the adults. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels are certainly filled with politics of the day: US Presidents, women's voting rights, Native Americans, and many other.

Making the Epic 2013 Prequel

The 2013 Oz prequel is about 2 hours and 10 minutes long and PG, but I don't know how many children can sit through the entire film. At the same time, film clips on late night TV and trailers in the theaters make the movie look entrancing and if so, time may not be much of a problem.

Reports are that the voice actors for the animated characters in the combination live action and animated film of Oz were present on the set, just as they were in Johnny Depp's vehicle Rango. Rango, all animated, included all the voice talent acting out their parts on a set for maximum interaction and realism. Word is that they had a tremendously good time doing so.

Some of Oz is CGI - and the film is in 3D - but for the most part, I hear that voice actors were present on the set and/or accompanied by particular dolls or other objects on which the live action actors could focus in conversation.

I'd like to see the out takes for this film, then, because filming must have been like filming the uproarious Muppets along with their puppeteers and the human characters sll at once in Muppet skits and films - surreal and hilarious. This is especially true, since Zach Braff (Scrubs) voices a flying monkey bellhop -- I wonder if he wore a bellhop's hat on the set to get into character.

Overall, green screens were not used much, if at all, hence my reference at the top of this page to the green curtain hiding the Wizard in the original Judy Garland epic.

At any rate, this 2013 film is all about how a small-time magician becomes the Great and Powerful Oz - in 3D. It is likely to become as popular as the 1939 epic. Have fun at this movie!

Copyrights On OZ 1939

A Hollywood studio, Warner Brothers, purchased the rights to the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz and with it, obtained full ownership of some of the items/concepts in the film that the original studio, MGM, invented and added to the story. These are things like Dorothy's red slippers, even though consumers can purchase copies for party costumes and kids wear.

Four or five of the original many-paired set of ruby slippers used for filming make the rounds of the auction houses every year, but one set is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. although it visit other countries (e.g. England, October 2012).

While this is all going on, Warner Brothers and Disney have been in combat over copyright and trademark rights. Disney applied for trademark protection of its 2013 title. WB opposed them and filed a complaint. WB also attacked a restaurant for calling itself Wicked 'Wiches, and went after books and all manner of merchandise even vaguely Oz-related. If you purchase anything unlicensed related to OZ merchandising, you may have a real collector's item.

Where are Judy Garland's ruby slippers now?

Actress and singer Judy Garland wore many (of which four pairs survive) ruby slippers during the filming of The Wizard of Oz for 1939. One pair was displayed in the Smithsonian Institution and I saw them in their glass case when I was a child. That pair is still on display.

A fifth pair used for a screen test sold at auction for $612,000 in June of 2011. September 2011 brought another auction of a pair of ruby slippers from the film, bringing about three million dollars. The Oscars association bought a pair at auction in February 2012 and is not talking about the hefty price.

Unfortunately, the Judy Garland Museum had a pair of the ruby slippers, but it was stolen.

Never fear, though; because, as with most things, you can get a knock off copy.

Children's costume slippers.
Children's costume slippers. | Source

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Comments 8 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

I saw a preview of the Oz prequel in a theater last week, Patty, and it looks just as enchanting as your description. Although I am not partial to 3D films, I am anxious to see this one. Thanks for the preview.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Hi Patty ~ I'm about to reveal my age :) I remember my mother taking me to see The Wizard of Oz as a child. I was impressional to begin with and watching "Dorothy" and her adventures remain with me to this day.

As I read through this hub, I was swept away with all of the details and very interesting facts pertaining to this collection of books. Especially with your friend collecting these books for 22 years and then donating them to the school library. Magnificent gesture!

Well, I could go on and on here but will save some room for your other fans. Superb job!!!


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most interesting and well pointed out


MarieAlana1 profile image

MarieAlana1 3 years ago from Ohio

This is really interesting, but yet useful information! Thanks for it!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Greetings, fans of Oz!

I hope all of you are able to see this film in the future. I especially like the back story of the magician, the witches, and the "big talking head" of the Wizard. As groups among the people of Oz go, the tinkers are priceless! The whole film is engaging and the land of Oz looks like a Disney ride come true. I must see it again!


Beth37 3 years ago

Cant wait to see it, thanks for the back story. :)


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 3 years ago from Hawaii

I really enjoyed the prequel, though I honestly never really cared for any of Baum's books (that I read). Somehow I didn't remember that there were many pairs of red slippers from the first movie. I don't know if I knew and forgot, or just never knew, even though I've seen the Smithsonian pair several times!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I have not read all the books, but I have enjoyed the movies more than I have liked the first book in the series - esecially like the color changes on film when Dorothy or Oz reaches the Land of Oz. Thanks for posting a comment!

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