Earlier we reported that Sam Mendes or Adam Shankman may direct Robert Downey Jr. in a sort of prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" called "Oz, the Great and Powerful." The Joe Roth-produced, Mitchell Kapner-scripted origin film detailing the backstory of the titular Wizard resides at Disney.
Unlike a lot of recent prequels, "Oz" won't be dealing with the origin of a villain in an attempt to explain or humanize the character (see the "Star Wars" prequels, "The Scorpion King," and "Hannibal Rising" for examples). For one, the Wizard comes from meager beginnings, a former resident of Kansas just like Dorothy Gale. What's more, he's not exactly a villainous figure.
What he is is a potentially compelling story for the big screen. Fans would like to see where the Wizard comes from, in the same way they'd like to see the origin tales for these other well-known franchises.
Untitled "Planet of the Apes" Project
The next prequel to hit theaters is likely Fox's "Planet of the Apes" origin story, which [SPOILER!] tracks the evolution of chimps, orangutans and other apes into the intelligent beings that end up replacing humans as Earth's dominant species. Set to begin shooting this summer, the movie (which may or may not retain the script's original title, "Caesar: Rise of the Apes") is said to basically retell the events of the third sequel, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." No director is confirmed just yet, but the current draft of the script is by Jamie Moss ("Street Kings") and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver ("The Relic").
Untitled "Alien" Prequel
After three sequels and two spin-offs pitting the nasty Xenomorph creatures against Predators, original franchise director Ridley Scott is returning to helm this film, which is said to take place 30 years prior to the events in "Alien." We know when it will be set, but where is another matter. There's no word yet on whether we'll be seeing the origin of the extraterrestrial species, their homeworld or simply a visualization of what happened to the elephantine alien corpses aboard the derelict ship seen at the beginning of the first film. Another thing we can expect is that it will be in 3D, according to art director-turned-filmmaker Roger Christian, who hopes to rework with Scott on the prequel. Unfortunately, original screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, who died last December, will not be a part of the reunion. Instead the script comes from newcomer Jon Spaihts.
Don't let the title confuse you. Dutch filmmaker Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's "The Thing" is also titled "The Thing." The movie stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Live Free or Die Hard"), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dennis Storhoi, Joel Edgerton and newly added actor Jonathan Lloyd Walker as an Antarctic-based research team working at the Norwegian camp investigated in Carpenter's 1982 classic. I guess it will have an unhappy ending, then? Universal plans to release "The Thing" sometime next year.
Untitled "Bourne" Prequel
Though not completely confirmed by Universal, Matt Damon mentioned recently that while he and Paul Greengrass may be done with (or on a long hiatus from) the "Bourne" franchise, the studio would likely go ahead with a prequel in order to keep the property alive. Both actor and director would be willing to help out in some capacity if such a reboot does occur, especially if it gives them the option to return to follow "The Bourne Ultimatum" in the future.
Universal is already behind the popular Broadway musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's book "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," so they obviously have the option on a film version. It's been two years since we heard "Wanted" producer Marc Platt would be bringing the book-turned-musical to the big screen. Of course, now that we're about to get a look at the origin of the Wizard, Universal may opt to put out this complementary backstory or wait and see how Disney's film performs before moving ahead on their own venture into the Land of Oz.