Johnson to direct ‘Oz Wars’

Vanguard making live-action/stop motion feature

Vanguard Films has tapped Mike Johnson, co-director of “Corpse Bride,” to helm its CG/stop-motion feature “Oz Wars.”

Script, written by Rob Moreland and Athena Gam, is a transformation of the Oz narrative, with Dorothy caught up in a whirlwind of warrior witches, black magic, martial arts and monsters against a contemporary backdrop.

Vanguard topper John Williams said new stop-motion software will enable “Oz Wars” to be made at “an unprecedentedly economical cost point.”

“Oz Wars” is an “animated action-adventure story, but unlike most animated films, it’s not just for kids,” Johnson said. “The Land of Oz will be reimagined using stop-motion to create a world that’s dark, slick, sexy and dangerous.”

Vanguard recently announced an overall producing and directing deal with “Kung Fu Panda” co-helmer John Stevenson, whose first Vanguard directorial project will be “Alien Rock Band,” a live-action/CGI hybrid, with musician Dave Stewart of Eurythmics attached as a producer.

Johnson co-directed “Corpse Bride” with Tim Burton. As an animator his credits include “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “James and the Giant Peach” and the children’s TV series “Bump in the Night”; directing credits include episodes of “The PJs” and the short “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which he also produced.

WME represented Johnson on the deal.

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