Robert Downey Jr. drops out of Oz, Johnny Depp steps in?

Get your ass to Oz, Johnny. It seems Robert Downey, Jr. has fallen out of Disney's upcoming sorta-prequel OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL.

That's according to THR's Heat Vision, which is reporting that RDJ has backed out of the role of the titular wizard in an effort to clear his 2011 schedule (he's also already dropped out of Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY). Replacing him, though, may in fact be Disney fave Johnny Depp who is reportedly now in negotiations with the Mouse House to step into the hot air balloon.

Director Sam Raimi will be at the helm of the picture, directing "the tale of Oz as a young illusionist with a grandiose attitude who is forced to flee a traveling circus. His hot air balloon is swept up by a tornado to the land of Oz, which is run by two magical wicked witches."

Depp's participation, however, does seem to be contingent on whether or not Disney can work around the busy actor's schedule. He's currently got Tim Burton's DARK SHADOWS and possibly Gore Verbinski's THE LONE RANGER (another Disney property). DARK SHADOWS (a project that's taken a very long time to become situated) is pretty much locked into place for a production start this spring. THE LONE RANGER, though, is not very far into development and could end up being pushed back in order to make way for OZ, which is apparently a high priority for the studio.
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