By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 19, 2013 at 1:08PM
After the first quietish months of the year, we're only a few weeks out from the first would-be major blockbuster of the year (if you exclude the underperforming "A Good Day To Die Hard," and the noticeably buzz-free "Jack The Giant Slayer"); Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great & Powerful," the first theatrical film to go back to L. Frank Baum's magical land, featured in the beloved "The Wizard Of Oz," since "Return To Oz" in the 1980s.
With the film a little over two weeks out, and screenings underway, Disney are (perhaps worried by low tracking?) amping up the publicity campaign in a big way, with such marketing brainwaves as making star James Franco a NASCAR marshall, and Oz-themed balloon tours. And more traditional marketing tools are starting to leak out at this point too.
For one, Mariah Carey's theme-song for the film, "Almost Home," has arrived, courtesy of The Film Stage. It's a fairly generic ballad, and sounds pretty incongruous to the world of Oz, especially when you consider this is the series that birthed a classic like "Over The Rainbow." But still, it's not actively offensive, which is probably something to be thankful for, and hits another target on Disney's scattershot demographic-chasing checklist.
Stars James Franco and Rachel Weisz have also been on the talk show circuit, debuting the first briefish clips from the film. One sees Franco's Oz flying around in magic bubbles with Michelle Williams, the other is a confrontation between magical siblings Weisz and Mila Kunis. The latter in particular could be seen as somewhat spoiler-y, so those wanting to go in totally blank might want to avoid it. There's also a featurette, like the clips, also courtesy of The Film Stage
Speaking of spoilery, Bleeding Cool have dug up some pictures that reveal which of the film's triumvirate of witches turns out to be the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, the iconic villain of "The Wizard of Oz." We won't give it away here, but a glimpse at page 2 should provide the answer for you.
Finally, director Sam Raimi's on the promo circuit too, and the Huffington Post asked the filmmaker if he'd caught up with "The Amazing Spider-Man," the reboot of the superhero franchise he initially brought to the screen with 2002's "Spider-Man." And perhaps unsurprisingly, Raimi says he hasn't, telling the site "I'm a big Marc Webb fan and a giant fan of Emma Stone. And of Andrew Garfield. I saw him on Broadway in 'Death of a Salesman' -- it's just brilliant. And I love the producers of that movie because they are dear friends, and the writer. But, I haven't had the guts to go see the movie yet. Because I don't want to go to my girlfriend's wedding. I just can't bring myself to do it. I don't have the guts. But I hear it's great. My wife even loved the picture and said it was a wonderful, excellently produced, beautifully acted, brilliantly written Spider-Man picture. She'd tell me the truth and that's what she said." To be honest, you're not really missing out, Sam.
"Oz The Great & Powerful" hits theaters on March 8th.