Since The Wizard of Oz spin-off Wicked premiered on Broadway 20 years ago in 2003, and in London’s West End from 2006, it has become a global phenomenon. It is one of only three shows to pass the one billion mark in Broadway revenue. It’s surprising that it has taken this long for a movie adaptation of the musical to happen, but fans have long questioned how it might work as a film.
One important decision that director John M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights) has made is to split the film into two parts. The first will be released in December 2024, and it stars Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Glinda, and Bridgerton cast favourite Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero.
In a new interview with Collider, Erivo discusses the differences from the Broadway show, and reminds us that it’s a movie based on a book as well as on a musical; “I don’t know that you can compare them. It’s like apples to oranges. The show is its own thing. The show is its own legend. I think this film is both an homage to the show and the book [the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West].”
Erivo continued; “We also get to create something really new and slightly different to what you’d be used to seeing. We’re lucky, in that we have the space to really fill the world and to really fill these characters. You’ll be able to get into the psyche of these women. You’ll get to know them more. You will live with them a lot more, and you’ll live with them a lot longer. I think it’s really special that we get to reintroduce these two women to you, in a slightly different way.” Movie villain origin stories are currently all the rage, with Cruella and Joker being two massively popular ones – so this does feel like a good time for the origin story of the Wicked Witch of the West.
John M. Chu explained the decision to split the movie into two parts; “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 surprises to the journeys of these beloved characters.”
The cast is rounded out by likely Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard, Marissa Bode as Nessarose and Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman) as Miss Coddle. While we wait for Wicked to come out, check out our guide to the best feel-good movies.