Modern Oz Adaptations! Let’s Make Them!

It is absolutely inconceivable to me that nobody has made modern Oz adaptations yet. Not in any meaningful way, at least.

We got the 80s Return to Oz, a few cool comic books in the 00s, that awful Disney movie, and of course Wicked. But there’s never been a real attempt at a wholesale franchise. A whole new world using this rich, weird, pre-Tolkien fantasy series.

Maybe it’s because there’s not enough cultural relevance these days? I’ve only read, I don’t know, three or four books, and not since middle school at least. Gen Z kids probably haven’t even seen the Wizard of Oz movie! (Then again, with the new Wicked movie will change that. There’s already a danged theme park after all.)

So it can’t be mined for IP nostalgia points, really, not like 80s toy lines and 90s superhero comics. The big old movie goes public domain in 2035, but by then Oz will be even further gone from the public consciousness. No, modern Oz adaptations can go deeper than that; there’s an entire library of stories that can be adapted, remixed, mined for any kind of story someone wants to tell.

modern oz adaptations

As of this writing, we already have full access to:

  • All 14 Oz books by Frank L. Baum
    • (not to mention dozens of other novels, some Oz-related, in his bibliography)
    • (Not to mention all the beautiful illustrations within these books!)
  • The first 8 Oz books by Ruth Plumly Thompson
  • A bunch of early Oz short films and stage plays (some are lost media)
  • Two official newspaper comic strips
  • A really racist picture book
  • The two Oz books by Jack Snow that accidentally entered the public domain

And more content will be added every single year. Again, 2035 is the big one, because that’s the movie. The Ruby Red Slippers will finally be available to anyone outside Warner Bros.!

modern oz adaptations

People have done plenty with Oz over the years. Mostly adaptations of the older books, but there’s been some weirder stuff, such as Oz’s inclusion in that Once Upon a Time TV show that was popular with girls who really like network dramas. (My word that show is visually ugly) It’s playing off our nostalgia for the books and movies, but that’s a well that’s quickly drying up.

So, where are all the other modern Oz adaptations? The stuff that takes this giant canon and makes something new with it?

Imagine something like, a big whimsical fantasy epic featuring tons of characters, of course not just Dorothy, that both adapts the existing public domain work and creates new stuff. Bring some modern sensibilities in there, but keep the magic and colorful characters. It’s a style of deep fantasy lore that’s totally separate from the post-Tolkien world, and it’s one that I think could really make an impact on audiences if given a real push.

Of course, the Oz fanbase is loyal and devoted. Small, but active and passionate. Any franchise with an independent non-Fandom wiki is most assuredly passionate. It’s a clear sign of just how much value the works already have on their own.

But with modern Oz adaptations, that magic could be harnessed to make something totally new and cool. I’m no stranger to weird public domain stuff myself, and if I was more in love with Oz, I’d probably be making a whole progression fantasy mega-series out of it, because that sounds funny as heck. Maybe finally do that aging-characters-in-real-time-along-with-the-readers thing I keep threatening.

Until that day, though, I’m hoping someone else will do something amazing.

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