Robert Downey Jr. has exited Oz: The Great and Powerful, Disney's prequel to The Wizard of Oz tale, and the studio is in discussions with Johnny Depp for the role of the great wizard, according to Heat Vision.

Sam Raimi is set to direct 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.

Johnny Depp is scheduled to begin shooting Dark Shadows, Tim Burton's adaptation of the 1960s gothic soap opera, for Warner Bros. this spring. Johnny Depp is also attached to star as Tonto in Lone Ranger, another Disney project. Ranger is further back in the development process than Oz: The Great and Powerful, although it has a director, Gore Verbinski.

If Johnny Depp commits to Oz: The Great and Powerful, that would push back the production of Lone Ranger.

Disney is very pumped on Oz: The Great and Powerful and hopes to start production in the second half of the year.