Will Jon M. Chu have the magic touch to get the musical Wicked onto the big screen?
Universal seems to think so as they just signed the Crazy Rich Asians director to oversee their film adaptation of the Broadway hit. Chu will replacing Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, who had to drop out of the project after scheduling conflicts arose when the film’s production date was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There is no word as to when cameras are set to be rolling nor has Universal announced a release date for the film. Recently Chu dropped out of production on the Willow TV series for Disney+, citing the summer 2021 shooting schedule would coincide with the birth of his second child. With it being reported that Universal is fast-tracking production, so we should probably expect a twister’s worth of announcements in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, Chu has his completed adaptation of the musical In The Heights set to roll out theatrically and on HBO Max later this year.
Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West, Wicked tells the story of how Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, first met and were friends before circumstances drove them apart. In the musical, Elphaba is not really evil, but rather framed by the Wizard due to her support of Oz’s talking animals. The first act stands as a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz, with the second act being a retelling of the classic story from this reimagined perspective.
The show ran continuously on Broadway from its opening in October 2003 straight through to last year’s live theater shutdowns in New York City due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of its forced closure, Wicked was Broadway’s second-highest grossing musical, trailing only behind The Lion King.
Although a hugely successful hit on Broadway, getting the musical from stage to the big screen has been proving somewhat of a challenge. Universal first announced plans for a film version of Wicked in July 2008. The studio was a backer of the Broadway show, so ultimately turning it into a movie was probably the plan all along. Not much further was heard about the project for two years, until a report surfaced that the studio was considering the likes of JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy and Rob Marshall for the director’s chair. Ultimately, the job went to Daldry in 2012. But even with a director attached to the project, release dates were announced and moved and then moved again as he studio tried to get the project in front of cameras.