James Franco is in early talks to star in Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful, after Johnny Depp passed on the movie last night.

Robert Downey Jr. had originally been attached to star before leaving the Disney project a few weeks ago. The studio began talks with Johnny Depp shortly thereafter, although the actor turned down the project last night after taking several meetings.

James Franco is still in very early discussions to play Oz, an illusionist whose hot air balloon gets caught in a tornado where he is transported to the magical land of Oz. If a deal is made, James Franco will be reunited with director Sam Raimi for the first time since the 2007 blockbuster Spider-Man 3.

Sam Raimi will direct from a script by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. A production start date hasn't been released, although Disney hopes to start shooting in the second half of this year.