By our guest blogger, Nick Hanover
Fresh in from Vulture is the news that Mila Kunis has abandoned the Hughes Brothers' remake of anime classic Akira to join Sam Raimi's Wizard of Oz prequel, Oz the Great and Powerful. This news itself comes on the heels of the recent announcement that James Franco would be stepping in to the role of Oz after Robert Downey Jr. vacated it. Vulture's report even claims that it was the casting of Kunis that got Franco to finally attach himself completely to the project.
Raimi's prequel comes at a time when Oz fever is higher than ever, thanks to the ongoing "Wicked" musical, which is based on an alternate take on the Wizard of Oz from author Gregory Maguire. The musical of "Wicked" is already set to be adapted for the big screen and Maguire's book is said to be in the process of becoming a made for TV movie. Though Raimi's production shares a similar concept with "Wicked," it's an officially sanctioned prequel that will be considered canon for the franchise.
Paired with screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire, who is fresh off the success of Rabbithole, the story will be about Oz's origins as well as the events that led to the placement of the Good and Wicked witches in their respective corners of the compass. Given Raimi's style, it's likely the prequel will be a zany, unique take on the franchise and with the increased profiles of Franco and Kunis, the former in possession of a Best Actor nod and a gig hosting the ceremonies and the latter getting the star treatment after a breakthrough role in Black Swan, it could be Raimi's biggest success since the Spider-Man films.
The bad news is that Kunis' departure from Akira apparently throws that production into a state of disarray. The Hughes Brothers fought hard to get the studio to allow Kunis to take her role in it and since Brad Pitt rejected their offers to play the lead, the future is uncertain for the film.