Studios set to butt heads on Oz, Monroe and Musketeers.
31 May 2010 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 12:30 PM

Given the almost unlimited number of subjects which could be turned into movies, it's amazing how often the Hollywood studios and independent producers elect to make films on the same topics or themes.

Hence right now there are two Marilyn Monroe projects, two updates of The Three Musketeers, three 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remakes, three new versions of King Arthur and as many as five The Wizard of Oz re-interpretations in development.

As's Tim Adler observed when he broke the news of the rival Monroe films, “What is it about Hollywood that no sooner does somebody have a good idea, then it turns out that somebody has had the same brainwave?”

Hollywood studios have been butting heads with films on similar themes for decades. Remember Armageddon vs. Deep Impact, and Dante's Peak vs Volcano?

Naomi Watts is to play the legendary sex symbol Monroe in Blonde, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' imaginary memoir directed by Aussie Andrew Dominik, with shooting scheduled to start in January 2011. Michelle Williams is set to play the character in My Week With Marilyn, which will focus on the actress' experiences in England working with Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl. That's due to shoot in late September, with Simon Curtis at the helm.

As for the duelling Musketeers, Doug Liman is to direct a new version based of the Alexandre Dumas novel for Warner Bros., while Paul W.S. Anderson is preparing a 3D version which will star Logan Lerman (who played the title character in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), Ray Stevenson (The Book of Eli), Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans) and Matthew Macfadyen plus Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu and Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort.

Disney wants David Fincher to direct a remake of 20,000 Leagues, potentially in competition with 20th Century Fox, which is entrusting its production to Wanted's Timur Bekmambetov, and with yet another rendition which producer Sam Raimi is developing for Warner's New Line.

Hot off the success of Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie agreed to direct a new King Arthur adventure for Warner Bros., scripted by John Hodge (Trainspotting) and based on Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur, a compilation of French and English tales published in 1485. Bryan Singer is attached to do a remake of John Boorman's 1981 epic Excalibur, also for Warner, while Sylvain White, who directed The Losers, is in talks to direct Pendragon, yet another retelling of the Arthurian legend, for Fox.

It's hard to figure why Victor Fleming's 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz has suddenly become a hot property. In the works are a prequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring Robert Downey Jr., of all people, as the wizard, with Sam Mendes as the mooted director; and a sequel, Surrender Dorothy, which Drew Barrymore would direct and maybe take the lead role.

Universal is to produce Wicked, inspired by the Broadway smash; New Line is developing a family-friendly version entitled Oz, with a screenplay by Darren Lemke, a co-writer of Shrek Forever After; and a there's a darker take, Oz: Return to the Emerald City, written by A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson which focuses on a granddaughter of Dorothy who returns to Oz to fight evil.