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Universal Pictures' long-gestating film adaptation of the hit musical Wicked will arrive in the form of two feature films, released on Dec. 25, 2024 and Dec. 25, 2025, respectively. The project's director, Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights), made the formal announcement on Twitter Tuesday, promising to deliver a pair of unique cinematic experiences for fans and newcomers alike.
"As we prepared this production over the last year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of Wicked into a single film without doing some real damage to it," the filmmaker wrote. "As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions began to feel like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years. So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas and make not just one Wicked movie, but TWO!!!! With more space, we can tell the story of Wicked as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters."
In late 2021, Cythnia Erivo (The Outsider) and Ariana Grande (Don't Look Up) boarded the movie as its two lead characters: Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz) and Glinda (the future Good Witch of the North). Respectively, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth played the roles in the original Broadway production. The rest of the cast for the big screen translation has yet to be confirmed.
"Cynthia, Ariana, and I — and all of the cast and crew — pledge to create nothing less than an experience that honors its foundation for all the fans who've waited for this movie, and to offer a thrilling, fantastical world of dynamic characters that invites in those who are unfamiliar," Chu continued.
Based on Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel of the same name, the Tony Award-winning musical serves as a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and subverts our collective notion of the hydro-phobic witch who just wanted her sister's ruby slippers. "Get ready because Wicked is finally coming to you on successive Christmas holidays beginning December 2024," the director concluded. "Until then, I will be keeping you up to date throughout rehearsals, the shoot, and even editing. Here. We. Go. #WickedMovies."
According to Deadline, the screenplay was written by the duo that adapted the book for the stage: book writer Winne Holzman and composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Speaking with Collider last year, Chu teased a much darker version of Oz than audiences have seen before. Hmmm. Darker than 1985's Return to Oz?!
"It's not as innocent as it had been in the past," he said. "But you're also going to see that the relationship between these two women [Elphaba and Glinda] is more real than ever, that we're going to be that close to them. We're going to root for them to try to get into that school or when one crosses the other. You're going to hate the other one at some point. You're going to want them to make up at another point, and you're going to feel when they separate. That's the most important thing. The spectacle? That's the easy part, we can hire a lot of people to do that. It's those little moments... that's what's going to make that."