The Wiz is a 1978 musical adventure film produced by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures, and released by Universal on October 24, 1978. An urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz featuring an entirely African-American cast, The Wiz was adapted from the 1975 Broadway musical of the same name. The film follows the adventures of Dorothy, a shy Harlem, New York schoolteacher who finds herself magically transported to the Land of Oz, which resembles a fantasy version of New York City. Befriended by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, she travels through the land to seek an audience with the mysterious "Wiz", who they say has the power to take her home.
Produced by Rob Cohen and directed by Sidney Lumet, The Wiz stars Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Theresa Merritt, Thelma Carpenter, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor. The film's story was reworked from William F. Brown's Broadway libretto by Joel Schumacher, and Quincy Jones supervised the adaptation of Charlie Smalls and Luther Vandross's songs for film. A handful of new songs, written by Jones and the songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, were added for the film version. Upon its original theatrical release, The Wiz was a critical and commercial failure, and marked the end of the resurgence of African-American films that began with the blaxploitation movement of the 1970s. The film received four Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Music Score and Best Cinematography.
The 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been adapted into several different works, the most famous being the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland. Join us over several Saturday afternoons this winter, when we’ll be screening the more infamous and perhaps less critically well-received adaptions of The Wizard of Oz. See for yourself how these adaptations stack up against the classic. All will be shown in the Farnsworth auditorium and are free with museum admission. (Please note, none are recommended for young children.)