- Director Justin Simien expresses a strong desire to remake cult classic film The Wiz, envisioning a Black-centric universe with Quincy Jones music.
- Despite its initial reception, The Wiz has maintained a loyal fanbase and saw success with the 2015 televised production The Wiz Live!, indicating ongoing interest in the story.
- Simien’s potential involvement in a reboot is exciting, as audiences are seeking more diversity in film and his fresh perspective could bring a new take on the beloved story, especially the iconic Emerald City sequence.
Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien wants to remake The Wiz, a cult classic retelling of The Wizard of Oz. The musical, based on the Broadway production of the same name, premiered back in 1978. It follows Diana Ross as Dorothy, a Harlem schoolteacher who gets swept away to Oz, although the film depicts its fantasy land as an alternate version of New York City. In addition to Ross, The Wiz stars Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King, and Richard Pryor as the titular character.
During the 2023 San Diego Comic-Con, Simien spoke at Collider‘s Directors on Directing panel, where Screen Rant was in attendance. Discussing The Wiz, he explained, “It’s a really disturbing movie,” but said he would be interested in remaking it. Read Simien’s comments regarding a potential reboot of The Wiz below:
“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.“
Could A Remake Of The Wiz Work?
Despite the poor critical reception and underwhelming box office performance, The Wiz has maintained a loyal fanbase years after its original release. A Broadway revival is reportedly in the works, and if the musical reaches more audiences, it seems possible that another film adaptation can be made. Simien, who directed Dear White People and Bad Hair prior to his involvement with the Haunted Mansion movie, already appears to have ideas in mind.
The Wiz Live!, which aired on NBC back in 2015, proved successful for the network, earning strong ratings and several Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Featuring recognizable talent, including Common, Uzo Aduba, Mary J. Blige, and Queen Latifah, the television event indicated that viewers were still eager to see the story play out on-screen. As audiences seek more diversity in film, and with the amount of remakes produced by Hollywood, a reboot of The Wiz could do well in theaters.
Hearing that Simien, a talented, rising filmmaker, wants to make a reboot is exciting. While The Wiz contains several differences from The Wizard of Oz, the story is mostly the same, and if Simien were to helm a remake, it is worth wondering how that project would compare. The scene he referred to, in Emerald City, is one of The Wiz‘s more memorable moments, so it is interesting to think about how he could update that as well.