According to the article (which I can't link to, so you'll have to take my word for it), even though it was legal for Disney to create Oz the Great and Powerful, because the original novel by L. Frank Baum was published in 1900 and therefore is in the public domain, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer owns the copyright for the 1939 The Wizard of Oz film based on the book and apparently sent lawyers to the prequel movie set to make sure that Disney didn't actually copy anything from the film. Okay, sure. Not unreasonable. Except that one of the things MGM's lawyers wanted to make certain Disney didn't copy was the shade of green of the Wicked Witch's skin. [Emphasis mine because WTF?]
That particular fact was so WTF-ish for me that I've been thinking about it for several days. And while yes, I can sort of vaguely understand the concept behind why MGM would worry about something like that, what I still can't understand is the point.
I mean, is there anyone on the entire planet aside from MGM's lawyers who would give a dingo's kidney about whether the prequel witch's skin was Mantis green or Asparagus? (yes, these are actual colors.) Would anyone even notice? I'll admit I haven't seen The Wizard of Oz recently, but I didn't look at the EW cover and think, 'hey--that actresses' boobs are four shades lighter than the witch's face in the original.' (I was actually thinking that the witch was showing an exceptional amount of cleavage for someone whose sole method of transportation involved constant headwind.) Hell, I'd just assumed that it was the same green anyway, because who wouldn't? It's a prequel to a movie with a green witch in it--of course everyone's going to assume it's the same green. And in all honesty, the fact that it isn't due to MGM's lawyers just makes MGM look silly.
But leaving that aside, what MGM and I would also dare say most of the large media companies don't get, is that fanworks only add to the original, not diminish it. To my mind, Disney's prequel is arguably a fanwork, because it wouldn't exist without the original movie. And therefore, I figure MGM should have seen how cool that would be for them and just let Disney use whatever damn green they wanted. Disney wants that same cyclic-hued Horse of a Different Color too? Awesome. The more continuity the better.
Why? For the one simple reason that a lot of media companies are still struggling with: Because fanworks enhance the enjoyment of the original work among the fans, and even bring new fans to the original work. How many of us have bought a song because we heard it on a fanvid? How many of us watched a TV show or movie after reading the fanfic? And how many of us have lamented that we would have stopped watching a given TV show except for wanting to keep up with the fanfiction?
People are going to watch Oz the Great and Powerful because it's a prequel to MGM's The Wizard of Oz. MGM knows that, which means they also have to know that because of the prequel, more people will be drawn to watch or re-watch their original movie. Even if the prequel is terrible--maybe especially if the prequel is terrible--people will still want to watch the better original movie. For Disney, Oz the Great and Powerful is a risk; for MGM it's win/win.
But God forbid MGM help enhance the connection between the prequel and the original by letting Disney use the same color green. It seems so nearsighted and petty.
Personally, I prefer Disney's green anyway. But man, she's going to need a shawl or something.