Universal is working on a film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical, Wicked, which derives its roots from the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Talks about a film adaptation began in 2012, with official confirmation issued in 2016. Since then, news about new developments in the movie has been trickling. In November last year, Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo were announced to star as the movie leads, Glinda and Elphaba.
Let’s get into all the details we’ve gathered so far about the upcoming film below:
What ‘Wicked’ is About?
A prequel to the classic The Wizard of OZ, Wicked tells the story of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West Elphaba and her unlikely friend, the good witch Glinda.
According to the synopsis, Wicked offers an alternate look at the land of Oz, where the heroine is wrongfully cast as the wicked antagonist. She battles against the wizard to defend her homeland.
If the movie follows suit of the 2003 Broadway show, it could navigate the journey of green-skinned Elphaba from birth to college and the life-altering changes she underwent to turn her wicked. A political activist, Elphaba fights injustice and strives to undo the mistakes of the past where dark histories and personal ordeals shape the world of Oz.
Wicked is a cautionary tale about love, friendship and trust and reveals that there are indeed two sides to a coin.
Jon M. Chu Directs ‘Wicked’
Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry was initially slotted to direct Wicked, but he withdrew from the project in October 2020. Jon M. Chu, the brains behind Step Up 2 the Streets (2008) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018), replaced Daldry as the director.
Chu expressed his joy for directing the upcoming film on his Instagram, stating that filming was his way of feeling valued because he always felt different and out of place. “I hid behind my camera because people liked to be filmed and I could disappear,” he said.
He continued, “When I saw Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Wicked over 15 years ago as it was being showcased in San Francisco, I couldn’t unsee it. So, to think that I have been recruited to bring this timeless story to the biggest screens all around the world for people of all walks of life, colors and shapes to experience with their loved ones and strangers, is like being invited to Oz by the Wizard himself.'
Some crew members from the Broadway musical will be returning for this project, including Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz, who will be working on the screenplay and Marc Platt serving as the producer.
The ‘Wicked’ Movie Cast
Grande and Erivo were the first stars enrolled on the project. Grande's Glinda is a dream come true for her, given that she expressed her interest to play the role over 10 years ago.
She tweeted in 2011, 'Loved seeing Wicked again… amazing production! Made me realize again how badly I want to play Glinda at some point in my life! #Dream Role.'
Six days ago, the pop icon teased the film's production start on her Instagram, flaunting her blonde ponytailed hair. Though she commented, 'new earrings,' her newly colored hair was hard to ignore.
In September this year, Chu announced that Jonathan Bailey of Bridgerton would be joining the duo lead as the heartthrob Fiyero, Elphaba’s hunky love interest. “They’re perfect together and I am too excited to pretend this hasn’t been happening. We have a Fiyero!!!! #JonathanBailey #Wicked,” the director said.
Recently, it was rumored that Jeff Goldblum was in final talks to portray the Wizard.
Will ‘Wicked’ The Movie Be Different from the Broadway Presentation?
Erivo disclosed during the 2022 SAG Awards red carpet this year that the film adaptation would take a slight deviation from its Broadway counterpart.
'I believe it's going to be unlike anything you've seen before and we're going to enjoy its magic. We will add our spin to what is known and show you a story of two sisters,' she echoed on Entertainment Tonight.
Earlier in April, Chu mentioned that the project would be released in two instalments to allow more time to explore the characters and the numerous musical numbers. “With more space, we can narrate the story of Wicked as it was meant to be told,” he indicated.
Schwartz also shared that the film will include new music. 'There will probably be four new songs in the movie. Three of them are newly written while the other is cut from the Broadway production,' he noted.
When Will ‘Wicked’ Be Released?
The first part of the film is slated for a December 2024 release, with the second part debuting in December 2025.