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New Line Planning Biopic Of OZ Creator L. Frank Baum

Long before the Harry Potter books were the fantasy series that children all over the world eagerly anticipated each new chapter of…there was the phenomenon of L. Frank Baum’s Oz. Of course, everyone knows The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but Baum wrote a subsequent thirteen other Oz novels from 1900 till his death in 1919.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, New Line Cinema has snatched up the spec script titled Road to Oz about the life of Oz creator L. Frank Baum, written by newcomer Josh Golden. Road to Oz, interestingly enough, was also the name of Baum’s sixth Oz novel. New Line is clearly hoping for success similar to what Finding Neverland and Saving Mr. Banks had.

Lymon Frank Baum was a fascinating character, who worked several odd jobs until striking it rich by publishing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. It was an instant success, and foreshadowing the creators of  popular fantasy and sci-fi fiction today, he instantly wanted to translate the Oz “franchise” (even if it wasn’t referred to as one back then) into other media, almost immediately transforming the book into a successful stage play, and even announced plans to buy an island off the coast of California to turn into a “Marvelous Land of Oz” theme park, some fifty years before Walt Disney ever built Disneyland. (the island he said he intended to buy seemingly didn’t exist, which might have proved to be a problem.) Successful or not, Baum’s ambitions would foreshadow what ended up happening over a century later with every successful fantasy property.

No director has been attached yet, but it’s said New Line is moving forward with this one aggressively. Maybe it’ll spark interest in proper adaptations of the other Oz books. The second book in the series, The Marvelous Land of Oz, featured a male protagonist who at the end is transformed into a girl, the Princess Ozma, so you could see why Hollywood has always been afraid of touching the other books, when one of the lead characters going forward is essentially transgender.

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