Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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What Went Wrong?: Vol. 46 – “Oz” Edition

This past weekend, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, a follow-up of sorts to the L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, was released and bombed.  It bombed hard by earning a paltry 3.8 million dollars (with a $70 million budget).  Not helping matters were the horrible reviews this film earned (15% on Rotten Tomatoes – how does this happen?).  While it was likely never going to make Avengers money, it did have a solid cast consisting of Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, and Lea Michele and an always-popular property.  What exactly went wrong here?


It is simple: the computer animation looked incredibly cheap.  Seriously – look at it!  It looks like something that would have been mediocre on video game consoles ten years ago.  It doesn’t look fully rendered and there is a shockingly lack of details.  While having a simplistic animation style is okay, when we live in a world of Pixar and Dreamworks, any sort of independent company (without major studio backing) needs to push out a good-looking product in order to compete or get people interested.  The film, as is, looks like it was meant to be one of those cheap direct-to-DVD cartoons meant to cash in on some other popular, wide-release film.

Not helping matters at all was that the marketing didn’t sell the movie at all.  From trailers, the film just looked boring and uninspired, and the humor seemed flat.  In short, animation aside, the movie just didn’t look all that enticing to make audiences (mostly children) want to see it.  I’m also sure that releasing Legends of Oz the weekend after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t do it any favors either.

I also wonder if there were any production problems hindering the film (not unlike Foodfight).  I first remember reading about this movie back in 2010 when it was originally titled Dorothy of Oz (I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz, so any new Oz news usually makes a blip on my radar).  I remember thinking the film’s story (something about a Jester taking control of Oz after the events of the first novel) seemed a bit misguided.

So sure of a 2012 release date, they had tie-in marketing ready to go including this 2012-2013 calendar.

So sure of a 2012 release date, they had tie-in marketing ready to go including this 2012-2013 calendar.

I would see the occasional update every so often until a few weeks ago, and I was surprised every time that the film wasn’t out yet.  I wasn’t anticipating the movie, but it seemed like the film was in production for forever.  A few weeks back, I started to notice the marketing promotions, and I couldn’t help but think that this movie already came out.  It didn’t.  Apparently, it was originally slated for 2012, but for current reasons unknown, it was delayed two years.  Not a good sign.

What did they do with that extended two years?  Nothing from the marketing suggests a higher quality of computer animation.  The story doesn’t seem all that engaging suggesting that re-writes were non-existent (or were just that bad).  What was done with that time?  Were the producers looking for a distribution deal?

So, this movie bombed and it is going to be forgotten about soon enough.  It is probably for the best.


6 responses to “What Went Wrong?: Vol. 46 – “Oz” Edition

  1. CultureCast-Z May 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    That calendar cracks me up. Reminds me of the “Coming Summer 2012” posters I saw for 47 Ronin.

    • Nick! May 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      While that calendar is clearly a case of “oops” marketing, I love early things like that which highlight a wrong release date. They are fun novelties. In fact, I own (somewhere) a poster for the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie that lists 2008 as its release.

      • CultureCast-Z May 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

        Ah yes, Star Trek — Coming Christmas 2008. I remember the 2007 Writer’s Strike very well.

        • Nick! May 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

          The funny thing about that is the film was done in time for that original release date. Paramount just didn’t have anything else done enough for a May 2009 tent-pole release.

          • CultureCast-Z May 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

            Wasn’t Man of Steel also done like 6 to 8 months before its theatrical release as well?

          • Nick! May 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

            That sounds about right. It was originally slotted for December 2012, but early on in pre-production, it was then pushed back to June 2013 so it wouldn’t compete with Warner’s other blockbuster “The Hobbit”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film was done far in advance of the release date, but I don’t think any marketing was done-up showing original date.

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