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Vulture Exclusive: Sam Raimi Offered Oz, the Great and Powerful

Vulture has learned that Sam Raimi has been offered the director's chair for Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz. Sam Mendes and Adam Shankman had both been speculated as contenders for the job, but insiders tell us that Raimi received the official offer earlier this morning. The project is written by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards, Romeo Must Die), and Joe Roth — who, of course, used to run Disney's studio back in the 1990s — is producing; Disney wants to start filming sometime this year.

It's unclear if Raimi will accept: Last July, he was hired by Warner Bros.-based Legendary Pictures to develop a film based on the wildly popular World of Warcraft video game, with the plan being that he'd shoot it after he finished a fourth Spider-Man film at Sony. Of course, in January it became clear that Raimi would not be directing Spider-Man 4, leaving his next picture an open question.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, has been developing two Oz-set films itself: It has a project called Wizard of Oz set up with former Warner studio-exec-turned-producer Basil Iwanyk (Clash of the Titans), with a script by Josh Olson (A History of Violence). And at the Warners-owned genre label, New Line Cinema, Twilight producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey have a project entitled simply Oz, with a script by Darren Lemke (Shrek 4).

Photo: Kristian Dowling/Getty Images