February 26, 2011 04:23:00 GMT
With the former 'Spider-Man' actor signing up to play the titular character, the action adventure film project is said on the track to start production in July.
While James Franco is preparing for his hosting duty at Sunday's Oscars, he manages to score a new big role. Deadline Hollywood reports the actor has just finalized his deal to star as the titular character in "Oz, the Great and Powerful".
The film will reunite him with Sam Raimi who directed him in "Spider-Man" trilogy. Franco was offered the role in "The Wizard of Oz" prequel after Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp passed on it. With Franco signing in for the lead role, the upcoming project is reportedly on the track of its July start date.
Beside hosting the upcoming award-giving show with Anne Hathaway, Franco eyes an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "127 Hours". He will be next seen in "Caesar: Rise of the Apes" which has November 23 release date, and possibly shoot Noah Baumbach-directed "While We're Young" before starring in "Oz, the Great and Powerful".
"Oz" has already gotten a script written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. The story will revolve around Oz's life before he was a wizard, back when he was just a circus performer from Omaha. Mila Kunis has been rumored to play the Wicked Witch, Theodorah, but no official announcement has been made.