Why is there talk of an Oz The Great and Powerful Sequel?

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I was recently asked why if Disney Oz The Great and Powerful isn’t performing up to Disney Studios expectations have they already started working on a sequel? First off, working on a sequel and going into production are two different things. But secondly, Disney does have some amazing expectations for the Oz franchise. Heck Imagineering has already built a model of the Emerald City with expectations of adding it as a whole new land to a certain theme park.

According to BoxOfficeMojo, at $453 million so far, Oz is performing well versus other films released at the same time and versus previous years, but it’s disappointing when compared to the success of Tim Burton’s billion dollar box office hit Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s numbers were the stretch goal (aka best possible scenario) for Oz. I think Disney would have been happy to have reached 70 or 80 percent of Alice, but right now, it’s on trajectory for just over 50 percent.

There are still some international markets that Oz has yet to tap, so that number could rise. Either way, it’s still a profitable movie, but not a massive profit that will help prop up other movies that may not make a profit at all, which is what Disney had been hoping for.

Maybe Disney thinks the sequel will close that gap? I don’t know. But there is an unending appetite for things dealing with Oz.

Disney CEO Bob Iger’s tactic of releasing only 8 films a year means higher goals for all the films box office totals. It is a riskier game. Before when there were 16 films, you could throw in a few lower budget films with the hopes that one of them might break out and be a big success. Now, every film has to be big, and so the budgets are big, and the marketing is big, and the stars are big, and the end result is every movie from Disney starts to look the same ‘big’. The end result of that logic chain has been that audiences became a bit bored with ‘big’ and have decided to stay away until something new comes along (see John Carter and the case of the awful marketing package, it was big, but not new).

This isn’t just happening at Disney, btw. All the major studios have entered into this feedback loop of ‘big’ films with diminished responses from audiences. Avatar was ‘new’ so it was a huge hit. ‘The Avengers’ was a new type of Superhero film, it too enjoyed great box office success. (File Alice and the first Pirates trilogy under new as well, DIS is batting above average at least.)

The question for Iger and the studios now is what can they do that is ‘new’ and ‘big’, which is one of the reasons they just made a certain large purchase at the entertainment super market. They’re going to be looking for Avatar sized success out of the next trilogy, so I expect them to pull out all the stops. They’ll certainly have access to whatever technology Cameron has developed for Avatar parts II and III (the Avatar-land deal at Disney’s Animal Kingdom helped develop that partnership, and now the benefits of the partnership are keeping it moving forward when a lot of signs have said stop).

But back to Oz. One month in, it’s the 10th highest grossing film of the last 365 days. That’s not too shabby and reason alone to pursue possibilities for a sequel. The low box office compared to Alice says more about how broken the old blockbuster movie model is than Oz itself. Of all the mega movie studios, Disney is uniquely suited to survive this transition. But there will be more change ahead. In that light, this weeks 150 layoffs are a good step, but likely not the last adjustment to be made.

Do you agree with Iger’s decision to release fewer films will work in the longterm?

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15 Responses to Why is there talk of an Oz The Great and Powerful Sequel?

  1. Kaz says:

    There is an Oz The Great and Powerful sequel – it is called The Wizard of Oz…

  2. Laura says:

    I always assumed that Alice made so much money because 1. Johnny Depp (and Oz doesn’t have comparable star power) and 2. 3D was still enough of a novelty that people were willing to shell out more for it, whereas now that’s less the case.

    • Seany F says:

      I think you’re right about Depp being involved, but as we know Depp can headline a huge flop too. It’s success was probably more about Depp being the mad hatter. So its casting above a bunch of other elements that sold it. Oz didnt have that. For the next one, Disney really need to think, who do people want to see playing x in an dream casting scenario, and then cast them.

  3. LV Abbott says:

    I really enjoyed Oz the Great and Powerful. Is it a Perfect movie, no, but I can see the love and joy people put into it. I would love it see how the Wizard of Oz story fits into this take on the magical land of Oz. I think that they would have to find away to make it new and fresh along with being akin to the original. But that me.

  4. Allan says:

    Does the eight movies a year thing includes Marvel, Pixar and now Lucasfilm as well? If it does then actually Disney is producing fewer films than before.

  5. Brad says:

    This is the only place I’ve read where Oz is considered a disappointment. I mean really, nobody expected it to do Alice numbers. Most people in the industry call it a success. I thought it was a nice homage to the original film.

  6. John says:

    I’m a little worried about how they would handle a sequel based on what happened in the first movie. First, the movie made it pretty obvious that Oz and Glinda are in love which is something you don’t find in the Baum books or the classic wizard of oz movie. How would a sequel handle that relationship? Marriage? Dating? Breaking up? Secondly, since Oscar Diggs is supposedly dead and the wizard is just a big floating head now, how can oz show himself in public? Or is James Franco just supposed to stay behind the curtain for the whole movie. How are the wicked witches going to reenter the conflict? And what about the character of Ozma? She was supposedly the daughter of the dead king in the books, but Glinda is the daughter of the dead king in the movie. (unless they make Ozma the daughter of Glinda and maybe Oz?) Are the problems insurmountable? Absolutely not. All I’m saying is any sequel better have a first class story line and script. I wouldn’t worry about continuity with the books or the original judy garland movie. Frank Baum’s books don’t really pay much attention to continuity so why worry now? As far as box office performance a little known fact: The original Wizard of Oz Movie was a box office disaster in its initial run. It only became a popular classic after they started running it on TV as an annual children’s special

    • John says:

      I take back what I said about a box office disaster. I actually found out the movie made 3 million from a 2.8 million budget. Maybe box office disappointment was the better term.

  7. Brian says:

    April 18 and Oz is not even in the top 40 of daily domestic box office.

  8. Gary says:

    I don’t understand why you think that Disney’s Oz underperformed? When did Disney ever say that it didn’t live up to their expectations? I’ve been googling the crap out of it and I’ve yet to see that (only here).. It did just fine – better in fact, and of course they’re making a sequel.. which people are going to talk about – especially since they wanna speculate on what may come.

    • John Frost says:

      This was the scuttlebutt released by word of mouth. A setting of realistic expectations via back channel so you don’t lose public face.

  9. Luxia Newmar says:

    I don’t think a sequel is going to happen. I thought the film was beautiful to look at but the plot was predictable and Mila Kunis made an awful Wicked Witch of the West. They should have just made Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

    • John says:

      I thought the same thing until I saw the box office results for the Lone Ranger. Oz is still the # 6 grossing movie of the year and a couple above it didn’t make a whole lot more. Man of Steel which should have been a half a billion was about 260 mil compared to 234 mil for Oz. I would say they have one more shot to get it right.

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