Get ready to dance through life with director Jon M. Chu’s forthcoming film adaptation.
One of Broadway’s most beloved musicals is finally getting the Hollywood treatment.
Universal is set to adapt Wicked, the Tony Award–winning Stephen Schwartz musical based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which offers a new perspective on the universe of The Wizard of Oz through the eyes of the Wicked Witch. The show first debuted on Broadway to critical acclaim back in 2003.
Jon M. Chu (who directed the adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights) will helm the highly anticipated project—and he’s already found his Elphaba and Glinda in Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande.
Ahead, everything you need to know about the Wicked film adaptation.
The musical will be split into two separate films, set to arrive in theaters in 2024 and 2025.
In April 2022, Chu announced that the Wicked adaptation will be split into two separate movies, the first of which will premiere in December 2024 and the second to be released the following year.
“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,” Chu wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “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!!!”
He added that he, the cast, and the crew are all committed to creating “nothing less than an experience that honors its foundations for all the fans who’ve waited for this movie, and to offer a thrilling, fantastical world full of dynamic characters that invites in those who are unfamiliar.”
Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande have been cast as the musical’s leads.
Erivo and Grande will play the musical’s frenemy protagonists, Elphaba (otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch). Their casting was announced back in November 2021.
Erivo and Grande are taking over the roles that were made famous by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the characters in the Broadway production.
Erivo has an extensive and successful background in musical theater, having won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical for the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, in which she played Celie Harris Johnson.
And prior to her pop career, Grande has also dabbled in musical theater. The pop star previously starred in the 2008 Broadway production of the musical 13.
Jon M. Chu will direct the films.
Chu has some experience adapting beloved Broadway musicals for the big screen. He was previously charged with helming the In the Heights adaptation, which premiered in June 2021. He also directed the 2018 rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, adapted from the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan.
“What really has hit me is the power of music and why musicals exist in the first place when words aren’t sufficient,” the director said on his philosophy behind creating the musical adaption in an interview with Collider. “Nowadays, words really aren’t sufficient for what we’re going through. So for me, it’s finding the truth of each song and working our way inside out of why that exists.”
Jonathan Bailey will play Fiyero.
Chu confirmed that the Bridgerton star will take on the lead love interest role in the Wicked movies on Twitter.
“He’s perfect, they’re perfect. They’d be perfect together. Born to be forever,” Chu wrote. “I am too excited to pretend this hasn’t been happening. We have a Fiyero!!!!”
Bailey is most known for his performance as Anthony Bridgerton in the beloved period romance series on Netflix.
The movies will look different from the musical.
In a February 2022 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Erivo explained why fans shouldn’t expect a 100 percent faithful adaptation from the musical.
“I think it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” she said. “I think we’re going to enjoy the magic of it. We’re going to try and put our own spin on what we know already and show you a story about two women [who] are sisters.”
Stephen Schwartz, who composed the show’s original music and is returning for the movies, also teased new Wicked music.
“I can tell you that at least as of now there will be probably four new songs in the movie,” he told Playbill in 2016.
Ariana Grande shared a behind-the-scenes look at her transformation into Glinda.
Grande teased her blonde transformation into the Good Witch on Instagram.
Sharing a photo of herself in profile, the “positions” singer sported honey blonde locks, which she pulled up into her signature high ponytail.
“New earrings,” she casually captioned the photo.