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       The 21 Jan 1981 NYT announced Walt Disney’s plans to make an Oz film to begin in 1982. Although the plot was undecided, Disney noted it would not be a sequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939, see entry). Film editor Walter Murch was in talks to write the screenplay and make his directorial debut on the Oz picture.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Walt Disney had purchased film rights to eleven Oz stories in 1954, and acquired rights to a twelfth story in 1957. Disney planned to make a two-part Oz television show in 1957, but soon realized that the project, titled The Rainbow Road to Oz, was “too ambitious” for television. Speculation suggests that Disney was not satisfied with the script, nor was he ready to compete with the much-loved original MGM film, The Wizard of Oz.
       The 26 Aug 1981 Var confirmed that Walter Murch would co-write the new script with Gill Dennis. Almost a year later, the 21 Jul 1982 Var announced that Murch would direct the feature, with an anticipated summer 1983 start date.
       In the 3 Mar 1984 Screen International, Walter Murch explained how, in 1980, he was asked by Disney Studio vice-president, Tom Wilhite, if he had a project he might like to direct for Disney. Murch mentioned that he had an interest in making a sequel to The Wizard of Oz, unaware that Disney owned rights to the Oz stories. As ... More Less

       The 21 Jan 1981 NYT announced Walt Disney’s plans to make an Oz film to begin in 1982. Although the plot was undecided, Disney noted it would not be a sequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939, see entry). Film editor Walter Murch was in talks to write the screenplay and make his directorial debut on the Oz picture.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Walt Disney had purchased film rights to eleven Oz stories in 1954, and acquired rights to a twelfth story in 1957. Disney planned to make a two-part Oz television show in 1957, but soon realized that the project, titled The Rainbow Road to Oz, was “too ambitious” for television. Speculation suggests that Disney was not satisfied with the script, nor was he ready to compete with the much-loved original MGM film, The Wizard of Oz.
       The 26 Aug 1981 Var confirmed that Walter Murch would co-write the new script with Gill Dennis. Almost a year later, the 21 Jul 1982 Var announced that Murch would direct the feature, with an anticipated summer 1983 start date.
       In the 3 Mar 1984 Screen International, Walter Murch explained how, in 1980, he was asked by Disney Studio vice-president, Tom Wilhite, if he had a project he might like to direct for Disney. Murch mentioned that he had an interest in making a sequel to The Wizard of Oz, unaware that Disney owned rights to the Oz stories. As the books were about to become public domain, Disney was reportedly anxious to make the sequel. However, prior commitments prevented Murch from starting production for a year and a half.
       A news item in the 5 Mar 1983 Screen International reported production would take place at the Thorn-EMI Elstree Studios in London, England, the following autumn. However, the 28 Nov 1983 DV announced a delay to Jan 1984, and cited an escalating budget as the cause. Disney reportedly almost dropped the project when producer Gary Kurtz presented a $20 million-plus budget, which included the use of seven-stages at Thorn-EMI Elstree Studios, a three-month production schedule, and additional Italian locations. Disney released a few of the stages back to Thorn-EMI, and insisted on lowering the budget below $20 million. The 15 Dec 1983 DV reported that the budget had been reconciled, and production would begin as planned, in Jan 1984.
       The search for a child to play “Dorothy” ended after nine-year-old Fairuza Balk was chosen from amongst 600 young girls, according to the 21 Dec 1983 Var.
       Referring to the film by its new title, Oz, the 9 Feb 1984 HR announced that Gary Kurtz had given up producer duties to Paul Maslansky, and was taking on the role of executive producer, at the request of Disney who wanted to ensure the budget stay under $20 million. Principal photography was set to begin on 20 Feb 1984.
       Production was finally underway on five stages at Thorn-EMI Elstree studios, according to the 24 Feb 1984 HR, which noted a sixteen-week shooting schedule.
       A news item in the 2 Apr 1984 HR announced that director George Lucas was traveling to London, England, to serve as a “special consultant” on the film. Lucas, who had co-written the film THX-1138 (1971, see entry) with Walter Murch, reportedly came to offer support to the first-time director after he had become overwhelmed six weeks into production. Second-unit filming continued as Lucas mentored Murch on set. Following the first visit, Lucas returned to the set several more times throughout production. The 16 Apr 1984 HR reported that directors Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, also friends of Murch, went to London to consult on the project.
       According to the 7 Apr 1984 Screen International, the film’s director of photography, Freddie Francis, had amicably quit over the lengthy shooting schedule and creative differences. Francis was replaced by David Watkin. Additionally, assistant director Michael Murray replaced Ray Corbett on the picture, as reported by the 18 Apr 1984 Var.
       The 17 May 1984 DV, which noted that production had hit its half-way mark, reported that producer Paul Maslansky was on point with his agreed upon $25 million budget for the film, which he was able to stick to by cancelling location shoots in Italy, Sardinia, Canada, North Africa, and Spain. Maslansky mentioned difficulties in working around nine-year-old Fairuza Balk’s enforced six-hour workdays, and several “doubles” were hired to complete the shoot.
       The 2 Jul 1984 HR announced that principal photography had been completed after eighteen-weeks of production. Filmmakers noted that Balk’s workday restrictions were the main reason for being two weeks over schedule.
       Referring to the film by its original title, Return to Oz, the 12 Jun 1985 DV reported the picture would hold its premiere on 21 Jun 1985 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the same day that the picture was set to open nationwide in around 1,000 theaters. The Rockettes were scheduled to perform a live show before the Radio City screening.
       Critical reception was poor for Return to Oz, with the 17 Jun 1985 HR film review noting “there is little sparkle or zest” in the picture. The Sep 1985 Box announced a mere $10 million in box-office receipts after twenty-four days in 1,200 theaters.
      End credits acknowledge: “Special Thanks to Robert Watts & George Lucas.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Sep 1985.
---
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1983
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1983.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 1984.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 1984
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1984
p. 1, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1985
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1985
p. 1, 8.
New York Times
21 Jan 1981.
---
New York Times
21 Jun 1985
p. 12.
Screen International
5 Mar 1983.
---
Screen International
3 Mar 1984
p. 12, 30.
Screen International
7 Apr 1984.
---
Variety
26 Aug 1981.
---
Variety
21 Jul 1982
p. 5, 28.
Variety
21 Dec 1983.
---
Variety
18 Apr 1984.
---
Variety
19 Jun 1985
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures Presents
Produced in association with Silver Screen Partners II
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
Asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Operating cam
Operating cam
Operating cam
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam grip
Cam grip
Gaffer
Video coord
Video tech
Video tech
Stills photog
Stills photog
Cam, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Illustrator and Story board artist
Story board artist
Story board artist
Story board artist
Modeller
Modeller
Modeller
Art dept models
FILM EDITORS
2d ed
Sr asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Chief draughtsman
Draughtsman
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Prod buyer
Const mgr
H.O.D.'s const
H.O.D.'s const
H.O.D.'s const
H.O.D.'s const
H.O.D.'s const
H.O.D.'s const
Prop master
Prop master (locs)
Unit props
Unit props
Unit props
Unit props
Dressing props
Dressing props
Dressing props
Prop management
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus rec mixer
Cond by
Soloist, Violin
Soloist, Cello
SOUND
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Prod sd
Sd crew
Sd crew
Re-rec mixer
Asst re-rec mixer
ADR rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Claymation® by
Char based on original drawings by John R. Neill with addl des by Gary Frutkoff:
Creature des supv, Mechanical char
Sr des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Des, Mechanical char
Mechanical des, Mechanical char
Mechanical des, Mechanical char
Fabric des, Mechanical char
Fabric des, Mechanical char
Fabric des, Mechanical char
Hair des, Mechanical char
Textile, Mechanical char
Patternmaker, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Tech, Mechanical char
Foam latex supv, Mechanical char
Supv plasterer, Mechanical char
[and]
General asst, Mechanical char
Model and spec eff supv, Prod and mechanical eff u
Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit
Dir of model and process unit - Vis eff consultant
Model cam, Model and process eff unit
Cam op, Model and process eff unit
Asst cam, Model and process eff unit
Matte photog consultant, Model and process eff uni
Opt ed supv, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Asst opt ed, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Opt eff, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Addl opticals, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Title des, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Matte artist, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Matte cam, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Matte paintings and addl opticals by, Opt eff and
Supv, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painting unit
Matte supv, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painting
Matte artist, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painti
Eff anim, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painting u
Cam op, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painting uni
Cam op, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte painting uni
Matte cam asst, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte pain
First process eng, Disney EFX, Opt eff and matte p
Claymation® dir, Claymation® unit
Claymation® prod, Claymation® unit
Claymation® art dir, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymator, Claymation® unit
Claymation® tech supv, Claymation® unit
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Chief hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
In charge of prod
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Casting
Casting
Casting
Casting
Continuity
Prod's secy
Dir's secy
Exec prod's secy
Unit nurse
Mime movement arranger
Supv accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Pub asst
Animals trained by
Continuity, 2d unit
Continuity, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt arr
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Dorothy's double
Dorothy's double
Dorothy's double
Dorothy's double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the books The Land of Oz (Chicago, 1904) and Ozma of Oz (Chicago, 1907) by L. Frank Baum.
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Oz
Release Date:
21 June 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 June 1985
Production Date:
20 February--early July 1984
Copyright Claimant:
BMI (Number 3) Ltd.
Copyright Date:
24 June 1985
Copyright Number:
PA248401
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27642
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1899 Kansas, Dorothy Gale suffers insomnia. Her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry worry that she has not been herself since a tornado struck their farm six months prior, and are concerned of her talk of a land filled with tin men, scarecrows, and ruby slippers. Dorothy sees a shooting star and is encouraged. In the morning, she feeds her hen, Billina, and finds a key with the word “Oz” on it. She shows it to Aunt Em as proof that Oz exists, explaining that her friend sent it to her on a shooting star. However, her aunt tells her to stop talking about Oz. When Dorothy insists that her friends in Oz are in trouble and need her help, Aunt Em takes her to town to see a doctor. Dorothy tells Dr. Worley about her adventures in Oz, explaining that she lost the ruby slippers that allowed her to return home. The doctor suggests Dorothy try an experimental new “shock therapy” treatment, and Aunt Em leaves her at the clinic overnight. Nurse Wilson gives Dorothy a bedroom to wait in, where a mysterious girl visits her. Later, Nurse Wilson straps Dorothy to a gurney and takes her to Dr. Worley. When a thunderstorm causes the electricity to go out, Dr. Worley leaves the room, and the mysterious girl arrives and rescues Dorothy. Pursued by Nurse Wilson, they run into the stormy night, and fall into a river. The girls become separated, and Dorothy floats aboard debris. She soon falls asleep and awakens in the morning to find her hen, Billina, aboard the makeshift raft ... +


In 1899 Kansas, Dorothy Gale suffers insomnia. Her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry worry that she has not been herself since a tornado struck their farm six months prior, and are concerned of her talk of a land filled with tin men, scarecrows, and ruby slippers. Dorothy sees a shooting star and is encouraged. In the morning, she feeds her hen, Billina, and finds a key with the word “Oz” on it. She shows it to Aunt Em as proof that Oz exists, explaining that her friend sent it to her on a shooting star. However, her aunt tells her to stop talking about Oz. When Dorothy insists that her friends in Oz are in trouble and need her help, Aunt Em takes her to town to see a doctor. Dorothy tells Dr. Worley about her adventures in Oz, explaining that she lost the ruby slippers that allowed her to return home. The doctor suggests Dorothy try an experimental new “shock therapy” treatment, and Aunt Em leaves her at the clinic overnight. Nurse Wilson gives Dorothy a bedroom to wait in, where a mysterious girl visits her. Later, Nurse Wilson straps Dorothy to a gurney and takes her to Dr. Worley. When a thunderstorm causes the electricity to go out, Dr. Worley leaves the room, and the mysterious girl arrives and rescues Dorothy. Pursued by Nurse Wilson, they run into the stormy night, and fall into a river. The girls become separated, and Dorothy floats aboard debris. She soon falls asleep and awakens in the morning to find her hen, Billina, aboard the makeshift raft with her. When the bird begins to speak, Dorothy realizes they must be in Oz, where all creatures can talk. With Billina in tow, Dorothy makes her way toward the Emerald City to find her friend the Scarecrow. The mystical stones report to the Nome King that Dorothy has returned to Oz. Dorothy is alarmed when she sees that the yellow brick road, which leads to the Emerald City, has been destroyed. She follows the rubble to the city and finds that it, too, has been left in ruins. Dorothy finds her friends, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, turned to stone. When she is chased by a band of ”Wheelers,” she uses her key to open a door and hides within. Inside the room, Dorothy discovers a rusty robot. After reading the instructions, she winds up the “mechanical man,” and it springs to life. The robot introduces himself as “Tik Tok,” and pledges his allegiance to Dorothy. He fights off the Wheelers, and forces one to reveal that it was the Nome King who turned everything to stone. Dorothy asks where the Scarecrow is, and the Wheeler directs her to Princess Mombi. Dorothy enters Mombi’s castle, and the princess leads her to a corridor of cabinets, each containing a living human head. Mombi promptly removes her own head and replaces it with another, as if changing her clothes. Afterward, she locks Dorothy and Billina in her attic, while Tik Tok powers down, in need of being wound. Dorothy discovers she is locked up with a Jack O’Lantern-type creature named “Jack Pumpkinhead,” who tells her that the princess used a magical “powder of life” to animate him. When he tells Dorothy where Mombi keeps the powder, Dorothy comes up with an escape plan. She sneaks out of the attic, goes to Mombi’s bedroom, and steals a key from the ribbon around her wrist. Meanwhile, Jack fashions a sleigh from a couch and mounts a moose head to the front of it. Dorothy retrieves the magic powder and sprinkles it on the head of the moose, prompting it to come to life. They board the sleigh, and with palm fronds as wings, fly out the window to rescue the Scarecrow, who has been taken by the Nome King. Mombi curses their escape, but is relieved they did not discover the girl she has trapped inside her mirror. During the long journey, the sleigh comes apart mid-air, and the would-be rescuers crash, unharmed, into the Nome King’s mountain. The King, who is made of stone and is capable of transforming himself into different shapes and sizes, appears to them on the face of the mountain, and demands to know why they are there. When Dorothy asks him to release the Scarecrow, the Nome King causes an earthquake, and Dorothy falls into his lair. He shows her the emeralds he took, insisting they originally belonged to him, and accuses the Scarecrow of having stolen the emeralds from him long ago. Dorothy is momentarily reunited with the Scarecrow, but he suddenly vanishes, and the King says her friend has been turned into an ornament. He gives Dorothy and her friends a test to guess which of the objects is the Scarecrow, promising to return him to life if they guess correctly, then sends them into a room, one at a time, to make their guess. As each chooses incorrectly they, too, are turned into a decorative object. Meanwhile, as Princess Mombi pursues them, the Nome King reveals the ruby slippers on his feet, telling Dorothy they fell out of the sky. He credits their power for helping him conquer the Emerald City. When Tik Tok needs winding, Dorothy is allowed to follow him into the room and wind him up, but first, the King offers to send her safely back to Kansas. However, Dorothy chooses to stay and help her friends. She enters a living room filled with hundreds of vases, chairs, and other decorative objects. Tik Tok reveals he was only pretending so that Dorothy and he could work together. Tik Tok makes an incorrect guess and vanishes, leaving Dorothy alone to guess which objects her friends have been turned into. Mombi arrives and confronts the Nome King, as Dorothy makes her final guess. When she touches a green object, the Scarecrow reappears. Together, they surmise that all her friends have been turned into green ornaments, and they search the room, bringing each back to life. The Nome King turns into a giant that attacks them, as the kingdom begins to crumble around them. When the King prepares to eat Billina, she lays an egg in his mouth, which turns out to be poisonous to Nomes, and the King disintegrates before their eyes. Dorothy reclaims the ruby slippers, and makes a wish that they be returned to safety and that the Emerald City be restored to its former glory. The friends magically arrive at the now glowing Emerald City, where they are celebrated for their efforts. Dorothy is reunited with the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, and Princess Mombi is imprisoned. They deem Dorothy the “Queen of Oz,” but she declines the honor, insisting she needs to return home. In a mirror, Dorothy sees the mysterious girl who saved her from the shock therapy treatment, and pulls her through the glass. The girl is Ozma, rightful heir to the Emerald City throne. Dorothy places the ruby slippers on Ozma’s feet, and asks to be returned to Kansas. Ozma promises to look in on Dorothy and bring her back to Oz anytime she wishes. Dorothy bids farewell to her many friends, but Billina decides to stay behind. Later, Dorothy awakens in Kansas, and is found in the woods by her dog, Toto, and her Uncle Henry. A search party surrounds her, and Aunt Em embraces Dorothy, explaining that the clinic burned to the ground after it was struck by lightning. In time, Dorothy sees Ozma in her mirror, but promises to keep her existence a secret. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.