"Oz: The Great and Powerful" is basically the story of the wizard. It is a sort of prequel to the 1939 "Wizard of Oz", which is how most of us were introduced to this magical world. However, it is more closely related to the series of books written by L. Frank Baum throughout the early 1900's.
The movie, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams and directed by Sam Raimi, is the most expensive movie Disney has ever made. Think about it! That's crazy! Just think about all of the HUGE movies Disney has made and this one tops their budget! It is quite an honor that they chose Michigan to make this huge film in.
Although there are some scenes in the film that were filmed on location in Michigan, most of the movie was shot at Raleigh Studios in Pontiac Michigan. The studios were constructed in the midst of the big film boom in Michigan, back in 2009. Becca and I were lucky enough to go on a field trip there with our day job. While we were there we learned a ton of fun facts about the studio. The massive complex took over a space that used to house GM facilities. It has 7 state of the art sound stages, a blue screen room (requested by Oz to be blue screens rather than green screens), tons of office space and even their own cafeteria. While Oz was using the facility they used every sound stage and utilized most of the office building.
"Oz: The Great and Powerful" was the first movie to use Raleigh Studios, but sadly they were also the last. There were several big films that were signed up to use the studios, until the incentives were cut. A couple of months ago there were talks of Raleigh having another film coming, but we cannot confirm whether or not that has happened.
Despite the sad ending to this story, at least there was one film that made these studios their home for months! And the Raleigh Studios family and all of us Michiganders should be proud to say that "Oz: The Great and Powerful" was that movie. It looks pretty amazing and magical! The fact that James Franco is in it makes it even better. (On a side note, I was obsessed with the idea of running into James Franco while he stayed in Royal Oak for months last year. I was very disappointed that I didn't hear that he frequented Ronin until after he left. The one place I didn't look was the first place that should have come to mind! Sorry, I guess I'm a crazed fan.)
"Oz: The Great and Powerful" is set to hit theatres in the spring of 2013. We should all cross our fingers and hope that this will be one of the few Michigan made movies that will return for a special Michigan Red Carpet Screening, in addition to the big ones around the world. One thing is for sure, we do not have to hope that this movie is a huge success, because it is already obvious that it will be.