Roger Stanton Baum was beginning to think Friday would never come.
Not the day, specifically, but what it represents: the opening of “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.”
The movie is based on Baum’s 1989 children’s novel “Dorothy of Oz,” the first of 16 the North Las Vegas author has written that are set in the world created by his great-grandfather, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum.
“We thought, gosh, it was never going to come out,” Baum, 76, says of the animated film.
The vocal cast — including Lea Michele of “Glee” as Dorothy, Dan Aykroyd as the Scarecrow, Jim Belushi as the Lion, Kelsey Grammer as the Tin Man, Bernadette Peters as Glinda and Megan Hilty as China Princess — was announced all the way back in June 2010.
To put that in perspective, Hilty was still 18 months away from starring in “Smash,” and “Glee” was still a really big deal.
Along the way, Baum and his wife, Charlene, were told it would be another couple of months. Then another couple of months. “After a while, it was like, ‘Yeah, sure,’ ” Baum jokes.
With his roles in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the “X-Men” movies, Patrick Stewart’s face belongs on the geeks’ version of Mount Rushmore. But his first trip to Comic-Con was to screen footage promoting his “Legends of Oz” role as Tugg the tugboat.
That was in July 2011.
The movie’s first trailer debuted in September 2012.
At one point, Baum says he began to think, “What if it doesn’t come out and you’ve told all these people? You’re going to really look like a flathead.”
Rest assured, “Legends of Oz” will be in theaters on Friday. And Baum will meet moviegoers at 6 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Regal Cinemas at Aliante, 7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas.
Its release, though, has put him in an awkward situation.
As with any adaptation, screenwriters Randi Barnes and Adam Balsam had their own take on the source material, adding some things and dropping others. But then Baum was hired to pen the novelization of the movie.
Writing a book that’s based on a movie that’s based on your own book has “been a challenge,” Baum admits. “That’s I guess an understatement.”
He has nothing but praise for Michele’s work as Dorothy, even stacking her performance up against the gold standard of pigtailed Kansas girls.
“She’s just great. Her voice, you can’t help but try to compare it to Judy Garland,” Baum says. “She does have that very sweet, innocent-type voice, and (it’s) strong at the same time.
“She does a marvelous job. I couldn’t be happier, personally.”
As for the movie itself, he realizes that satisfying the millions of Oz fans around the world is a tall order.
“So that puts a lot of responsibility on the producers and directors and all that. It’s based on my book, so that in a way puts pressure on me. Although,” he adds with a laugh, “I’m not the one that decided to make it into a movie.”
■ Summer screenings: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas kicks off its fourth season of Dive-In Movies on Monday with the food-themed double feature “Julie &Julia” and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Every Monday through Labor Day, movies will be shown at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on the Boulevard Pool’s 65-foot digital marquee. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567.