Get your red ruby slippers ready, because Black-Ish creator Kenya Barris has been tapped to remake The Wizard of Oz for Warner Bros.
Per Deadline, all we know for now is that it will be a modern re-imagining of the original film, and Barris will write and direct it. 1939’s The Wizard of Oz starred child star Judy Garland as Dorothy, a young girl whisked from her home in Kansas to the magical land of Oz and makes several new friends on her journey to return to her family.
This remake of The Wizard of Oz isn’t Barris’ first rodeo when it comes to adapting classic material for modern audiences. Most recently, Barris co-wrote the Cheaper By the Dozen remake for Disney that starred Zach Braff and Gabriel Union as well as Robert Zemeckis’ The Witches which starred Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer. He was also involved in the Eddie Murphy sequel Coming 2 America and is also working on a remake of the ‘90s classic White Men Can’t Jump. His directorial debut will come with the comedy You People (which he co-wrote with Jonah Hill) starring Hill, Nia Long, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lauren London, David Duchovny, and more.
Kenya Barris on the Yellow Brick Road to The Wizard of Oz
If that wasn’t enough, he will write, direct, and produce a Richard Pryor biopic, is producing a Juneteenth-centered musical with Pharrell Williams, and an animated film inspired by Bob Marley’s music. However, most audiences likely know him as the creator of the hit sitcom Black-Ish, starring Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne.. The series (which is currently available to stream on DisneyPlus and Hulu in the United States) drew critical and audience acclaim over its 8-season run and lead to 2 spinoffs: Grown-Ish and Mixed-Ish, running for 5 and 2 seasons respectively.
Given his penchant for providing social commentary through his comedy, it will certainly be interesting to see what he brings to the table for the Wizard of Oz remake. With the original being held as one of cinema’s greatest achievements, it will have to be something truly magical for audiences to flock to it. It won’t be the only time since the original that we’ve revisited this magical land though.
We’ve had the animated sequel Journey Back to Oz in 1972, the Diana Ross-led The Wiz in 1978, the dark fantasy sequel Return to Oz in 1985, the 2013 prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful, the 2014 animated film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, and, of course, the Broadway smash hit Wicked, which has its own adaptation in the works. The financial success of those properties has varied wildly (with Wicked on Broadway being the biggest hit of them all outside the 1939 original film), so it’s clear any new addition to the Oz legacy has to offer something truly new to capture audiences’ attention.
While it was not a financial hit upon its release in 1939, The Wizard of Oz slowly rose to become one of cinema’s most beloved classics thanks to several re-releases in theaters, television showings, and several home media options over the years. It was one of the first films to be largely shot in color as opposed to the then-traditional black and white (though the original release saw the Kansas sections shot in B&W before transitioning to color for the Oz sequences).
The Wizard of Oz was nominated for several Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song and Best Original Score for that year, and launched Judy Garland into superstardom. That’s a heavy legacy for this remake to live up to, plus, Deadline reported in February 2021 that New Line Cinema has Another remake coming from HBO’s Watchmen director Nicole Kassell, so we’ll have plenty of Oz to go around.
What are your thoughts on Kenya Barris remaking The Wizard of Oz? Do you enjoy the original film or any other entries in the series? What did you think of Barris’ previous shows and films? Would you travel to Oz if it were possible? Let us know in the comments below and on our Twitter.