Now that he’s almost unveiled his on-screen vision behind one of Disney’s most beloved rides, Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien says that he’s ready for his next dark project – a revival of The Wiz. A true classic, the original Broadway production was swiftly re-shaped into a film adaptation with a leading cast including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, Nipsey Russell, and Mabel King.
A twist on The Wizard of Oz, Simien revealed to Collider (via ScreenRant) during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con that he would love to take a swing at bringing the story to the next generation.
Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien wants to remake the Michael Jackson fantasy musical, The Wiz.
In his comments, the Dear White People helmer shared his love for the original Michael Jackson-led production, revealing that it was “the first movie I ever saw,” and adding that when he did eventually see the Judy Garland-led The Wizard of Oz, he was baffled why they would make “a white version of the Wiz.”
Sharing that he already has big ideas for his hopeful reboot, Simien went on to say that there’s so much that can be done with what he refers to as “a really disturbing movie to watch as an adult,” telling audiences to watch out for the parts in Emerald City as “Y’all ain’t ready for what I’ve got prepared.”
If Simien were to come through with a reboot of The Wiz, it wouldn’t be the first time the story has been given a second go-around since its days led by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
While Simien says that his version would have music by the legendary Quincy Jones, the original film’s score was penned by Charlie Smalls, who won a Tony and Grammy for his work on the original Broadway production.
Stacked to the brim with the biggest names of the time like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Richard Pryor, the film also brought in some legendary names for the production crew which included five-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), and screenplay writer, Joel Schumacher, the man responsible for Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, and other classics like The Lost Boys and Phonebooth.
“I want to make The Wiz so bad. Oh my God, I want to make it so bad. The Wiz was the first movie I ever saw, so by the time I saw The Wizard of Oz, I didn’t understand why they made a white version of The Wiz. So my vision of the film was a Black-centric universe with Quincy Jones music. It’s a really disturbing movie to watch as an adult, but that’s one I’d love to do. That Emerald City sequence? Y’all ain’t ready for what I’ve got prepared.”Justin Simien
In The Wiz, Dorothy (Diana Ross), a Harlem schoolteacher, attempts to rescue her dog from a powerful storm but, in the process, is carried off to a fantasy land called Oz. Like in the original story, she accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East and is told of the powers of the Wiz (Richard Pryor), her only hope in getting back to New York City.
Along her journey to the Emerald City, she meets a crew of helpful pals: the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell), and the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross).
If Simien were to come through with a reboot of The Wiz, it wouldn’t be the first time the story has been given a second go-around since its days led by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. In 2015, NBC added it to the network’s slate of live performances in a special titled, The Wiz Live! The cast featured huge names of the day including Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Common, and brought in viewers by the droves.
With Haunted Mansion arriving in theaters this weekend, we’ll see if Simien’s vision can scare up the box office numbers it would require for a studio to allow him to move forward with the film made famous by Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor. There’s clearly still a market for the classic story as black-ish creator Kenya Barris was tapped to revive The Wizard of Oz last year.