For decades, movie fans could go off to see the “Wizard” only once a year on television. Now, it’s easy to journey to the land of Oz whenever you want.
The 75th anniversary celebration of “The Wizard of Oz” has already started, and it’s been met with more bells and whistles than that man behind the curtain had at his disposal. The film enjoyed an expensive IMAX 3-D conversion, now showing nationwide, including at the Transit Regal IMAX.
A $25 million marketing campaign includes McDonald’s Happy Meals with adorable child-friendly “Oz” figures; tie-ins with Gourmet Trading Company asparagus and Langer’s Juice; a Food Network “Cupcake Wars” episode in which contestants baked cupcakes inspired by the film; and a recent two-hour special on QVC, the home shopping network. (The “Oz”-inspired products – including bubble bath, nail polish and jewelry – were so popular, the show had to end early because items sold out.)
The “Official 75th Anniversary Companion” book, with such cool “removable” features as a death certificate for the Wicked Witch of the East and a Land of Oz newspaper, will be available at the end of October. More products in everything from clothing to stationery and “personal care” are coming soon. And look for the wizard’s hot air balloon and Oz characters to make an appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
On Tuesday, the film returned to home video in a 75th anniversary edition. Choose from a two-disc DVD ($16.95), a single-disc Blu-ray ($19.98) and a two-disc 3-D/Blu-ray ($35.99).
For the superfan, there’s a nifty five-disc “Collector’s Edition” ($105.43). So what differs between the 70th anniversary collector’s set and this new one? For the 75th anniversary, exclusive collectibles include a 48-page photo book, a hardcover journal, a map of Oz, a sparkling Ruby Slippers globe and an enamel pin set that replicates the pins given to the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion.
A new documentary comes on all editions of the 75th anniversary release; otherwise, we’ve seen the special features before.
Martin Sheen narrates the hourlong documentary that details how author L. Frank Baum was a man who failed at many careers before writing the “Oz” books (the “Harry Potter” of their day), as well as the many challenges in getting the film made (multiple writers and directors, changes in Dorothy’s onscreen looks and casting issues from on-set injuries).
We learn how the songwriting was the most sought-after gig in Hollywood (the job went to two “brilliant” but little-known guys, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and Buffalo’s own Harold Arlen) and how the invention of television turned “Oz” into an institution 30 years after its release. “You waited all year for that one event,” composer Marc Shaiman said about the annual televised viewing.
Also giving their thoughts on “Oz” are composers Stephen Schwartz (the “Wicked” composer calls it the “first American fairy tale”); historians John Fricke and Sam Wasson; filmmakers Rob Marshall and William Friedken; and Bert Lahr’s son John. Vintage clips feature Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton and Mervyn LeRoy, among others.
Oh, you’ll get the movie, too. The five-disc set, in fact, has it in Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3-D, DVD and UltraViolet versions so you can watch it anytime, anywhere.