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OTRC: 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' starring Mila Kunis and James Franco, begins production

Mila Kunis and James Franco appear in a scene from the 2010 comedy movie 'Date Night.' (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Production on "Oz The Great and Powerful," a Walt Disney Pictures film starring Mila Kunis and James Franco, has begun, the studio said in a statement on Tuesday, July 26.

The movie is directed by Sam Raimi and tells of the origins of the Wizard of Oz, who is played by Franco, 32. Kunis, 27, plays the witch Theodora, while 41-year-old British actress Rachel Weisz from the "Mummy" movies portrays her character's sister, Evanora.

Michelle Williams, who is 31 and has appeared in the series "Dawson's Creek" and the movie "Blue Valentine," plays Glinda, the Good Witch.

The wizard was an illusionist on Earth and ends up in Oz after a tornado blows his hot air balloon off course. He later becomes the ruler of the magical land. Kunis' character, Theodora, becomes evil after the wizard rejects her sexual advances.

Perhaps the most famous adaptation of the L. Frank Baum's children's stories about the magical land of the Yellow Brick Road is the 1939 classic film that starred Judy Garland.

In "Oz The Great and Powerful, Zach Braff, who is 35 and known for his role on the medical comedy series "Scrubs," portrays the wizard's circus assistant and also voices a winged monkey who accompanies the magician on his journey to Oz. Joey King, a 12-year-old actress who appeared in the 2010 children's comedy film "Ramona and Beezus," voices another one of the wizard's companions - China Girl, Walt Disney Pictures said.

"Oz The Great and Powerful" is set for release on March 8, 2012. The movie began filming on Monday and will be shot entirely at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac, Michigan, which was once the location of General Motors' Centerpoint business campus and truck manufacturing plant, Walt Disney Pictures said.

Franco and Kunis starred together in the 2010 film "Date Night." Both rose to fame by appearing on comedy shows on television - Franco with "Freaks and Geeks" and Kunis with "That 70s Show." Franco's breakout movie role was that of Harry Osborn in the "Spider-Man" trilogy, which Raimi directed.

Franco earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the 2010 movie "127 Hours." He also appeared in the 2011 fantasy comedy film "Your Highness" opposite Kunis' co-star from the 2010 film "Black Swan," Natalie Portman, and also stars in the new sci-fi movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which is due to hit theaters on August 5.

In addition to shooting his "Oz The Great and Powerful," Franco will soon film scenes for at least one upcoming episode of the ABC soap opera "General Hospital." The actor has appeared on the show on and off since 2009.

Kunis received a Golden Globe nod for her role as a manipulative ballet dancer in "Black Swan," which earned Portman an Academy Award. Kunis told OnTheRedCarpet.com at the 2011 Oscars, which Franco co-hosted in February, that she doesn't want to be a "one-trick pony" when it comes to her career.

She recently appeared opposite Justin Timberlake in the R-rated romantic comedy "Friends With Benefits."

Just prior to the release of the film on July 22, the two made headlines when they accepted YouTube video invitations by a male and female Marine to accompany them to their Marine Corp Balls.

White, 89, turned down a similar invitation from another Marine, while "Terminator" actress Linda Hamilton, 54, posted her own YouTube video, which shows her extending an offer to go in her place.

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