He (or at least his people) has signed on the line that is dotted, and Deadline is reporting that James Franco will indeed be starring in Oz: The Great & Powerful for Sam Raimi. We’ve understood that the two parties were negotiating for the past week or two, ever since Robert Downey Jr. dropped out, but now it seems to be official, also indicating that Disney has gotten the budget to a place where they are satisfied enough to recast their major star and to start the film in July.

Obviously this makes Franco an even busier man, but it’s definitely a titanic part among all of the smaller films he’s set to be a part of (While We’re Young, Sweet Bird of Youth) this year, and will follow up his first true blockbuster-leading role in Rise of the Apes. While that film will end up with the apes likely being the focus, Franco will fully carry Disney’s latest flagship property, which they must hope will recapture some of that wacky literary fantasy success of Tim Burton’s $1B+ grossing Alice in Wonderland.

You’ll of course be able to catch Franco this Sunday, hosting the OSCARS with Anne Hathaway (make sure you’re ready for the awards with our extensive OSCAR GUIDE). You can also see the glimpse of him in Rise of the Apes that Fox released yesterday.

That’s it for now but this is a high priority for Disney and sports a flagship geek director, so expect it to be heavily covered as it starts rolling.

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