Vanguard Films has signed Corpse Bride co-director Mike Johnson to direct its CG/stop-motion hybrid feature Oz Wars.

Rob Moreland and Athena Gam (who wrote Vanguard’s recently announced Alien Rock Band) co-wrote the screenplay that offers a PG-13 spin on The Wizard Of Oz story as Dorothy gets caught up in a whirlwind of warrior witches, black magic, martial arts and monsters.

“Mike Johnson is a spectacular director and one of the masters of stop-motion,” Vanguard Films president and CEO John Williams said. “We all think Oz Wars is a wildly original and commercial project that will thrill and astonish audiences. Additionally, due to revolutionary new stop-motion software, Mike will be making this world-class quality film 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 added. “The Land Of Oz will be re-imagined using stop-motion to create a world that’s dark, slick, sexy, and dangerous. It’s long been a goal of mine to create a hard-hitting, grown-up action film using stop-motion animation. Oz Wars is my opportunity to do that.”

Vanguard recently announced an overall producing and directing deal with Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson, whose first Vanguard project will be the aforementioned live action-CGI hybrid Alien Rock Band with Dave Stewart attached as a producer.

Johnson was represented by WME on the deal.