Is Johnny Depp the Next Oz?

They have a director on board plus a unit production manager, but the question these days seems to be who will play the great wizard in Disney's Oz, the Great and Powerful. Robert Downey, Jr., was slated to play the lead, but has reportedly backed out of the production.

Enter Johnny Depp, who has had a pretty good relationship with Disney thus far. Though he has a pretty tight schedule with another Tim Burton flick (Dark Shadows) in the works as well as a gig as Tonto in Disney's The Lone Ranger on the horizon, Disney execs would like to see him add Oz to his plate. It seems it comes down to the timing of the productions. Oz is behind Dark Shadows in production, but ahead of The Lone Ranger, and it looks like Disney would rather focus on getting their Oz project to the screens ahead of Ranger.

Sam Raimi is set to direct Oz which will be a sort of prequel to the 30's classic The Wizard of Oz and will tell us just how the wizard got to the land of Oz. At this time, there is no anticipated release date.

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