The 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz is an LGBTQ+ classic, but two new versions of the story are on the way, one set to be explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive.
Kenya Barris, creator of Black-ish and Grown-ish, recently told Variety his version will feature a diverse range of characters. “The original was an allegory and a reflection of the way the world was at the time with things like the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl,” he said. “Now we’re going to turn a mirror on where we’re at right now and take disparate characters from the LGBTQ community, from different cultural communities and socioeconomic communities, and tell a story that reflects the world. I think this is the best time to do that.” Barris is writing and directing the film for Warner Bros.
It was announced last year that Nicole Kassell, best known for directing the Watchmen miniseries, would direct a Wizard of Oz film for New Line Cinema. It will draw on both the 1939 film and the novel by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum wrote several books set in the land of Oz. “While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of reimagining such a legendary tale,” Kassell said in February 2021.
The 1939 film starring Judy Garland is the definitive version to many, but there have been many tellings of the tale. There was a silent film in 1925. The 1970s brought the Broadway musical and film The Wiz, setting the story in the African-American community.
More recently, there has been a prequel of sorts, the Broadway musical Wicked, detailing the early lives of “wicked” witch Elphaba and “good” witch Glinda. Wicked is being made into a film starring Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Glinda; out actor Jonathan Bailey will costar, and shooting is scheduled to start in the next few months. It’s based on the novel by gay author Gregory Maguire, who’s written several other books about the Oz characters.
So while many of us will always go over the rainbow with Judy Garland, it’s clear there will be plenty of other yellow brick roads leading to Oz.