Oz The Great And Powerful's Opening Titles: An Exclusive Look Behind The Scenes
The rules about what Yu could reference from The Wizard of Oz were strict-- even clouds were forbidden from the opening titles because they're in the opening of the original film, leaving him to create "a graphic interpretation of clouds" instead. Still, Yu took inspiration from the way the 1939 film foreshadows much of its action throughout the film. The entire title sequence foreshadows Oscar's journey into Oz, spiraling forward constantly like a trip through a tornado, and operating from one fixed perspective like a man traveling in an unfamiliar world. But there are also smaller, more specific moments, like the appearance of the Zach Braff-voiced monkey Finley, or the music box that Oscar gives Theodora with disastrous consequences. That music box, like many moments in the sequence, required close collaboration between Yu and composer Danny Elfman:
We wanted to introduce the music box. Danny Elfman did a really, really terrific job setting up and using that melody to set up almost a signature melody throughout the entire movie. We set up that signature audio at the beginning, when we see "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," to set up a sense of wondering. Then we're pulling back and we realize we're in the world of this three-dimensional diorama set of this paper theater, and then we start zooming into the [Disney logo] castle. So every single thing, in terms of the audio and the visuals, they all foreshadow the story from the film.
Yu + Co also worked on the closing credits for the film, which take their inspiration from a line in the original Wizard of Oz that they actually were allowed to use: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Yu's team designed the bright "The End" that flashes across the sky and the sequence that comes after, which like the beginning opens up a curtain, but not on to a paper theater this time. Yu generously shared some of the title design options that didn't wind up in the final film, clearly referencing the antique phenakistoscope cards, though this time in explosive color (and with obviously fake names). See them below (and, again, click for higher-res).
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