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Fantasy goes dark

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•"Ender's Game," a sci-fi thriller based on the Orson Scott Card series set in a dystopian world that follows a young boy recruited by the military to fight an alien invasion but who later realizes he's participating in genocide.

•"Oz: The Great and Powerful," a prequel to the classic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" that pits the wizard (James Franco) against three devious witches.

Television is also plundering fairy tales and fantasy literature to deliver darker revisions of the originals. Besides "Grimm," an NBC cop drama featuring characters from the classic tales, viewers can also tune into "Once Upon a Time," a reworking of fairy tales set in the present day on ABC, and "Game of Thrones," an HBO series of medieval fantasy.

Fantasy fare is maturing to correspond with the "Harry Potter" audience, which is older and now hungry for entertainment that is more evolved with a realistic element of danger, says Brad Ricca, who teaches at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and whose book, "Super Boys," a history of Superman, is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press.

" 'Harry Potter' primed its audience for these new types of movies. [Studios are] trying to get at the now older 'Harry Potter' audience, which is looking to somewhere new to eat their popcorn," Mr. Ricca says.

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