Wicked: Everything We Know About the Long-Awaited Movie Musical

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Thank goodness: The Wicked movie is finally taking form. Nearly a decade after plans to adapt the smash musical were announced, we finally have two superstar leads attached to the project: Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande.

Wicked, the spectacular Wizard of Oz prequel from Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, first hit the stage in 2003 and went on to win three Tony Awards and become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time. It’s no question that bringing the production to the screen will be a massive undertaking, but it’s also a highly anticipated one with a passionate built-in fanbase. In the Heights director Jon M. Chu, also a new addition to the project, is taking on the grand feat.

Further casting and release details are still unknown, but best believe we’ll be dusting off their brooms and flying to theaters as soon as Wicked is out. Here’s what we do know so far.

What is Wicked about?

Based on Gregory Maguire’s bestselling book of the same name, Wicked tells the story of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West before they became the legendary figures in The Wizard of Oz. According to this telling, the two met (and clashed) as roommates at Shiz University, where they were then known as Galinda and Elphaba. But they formed an unlikely friendship and an unbreakable bond before pursuing separate paths that led to their famous monikers. The sweeping fantasy includes origin stories for other familiar Oz characters too.

Who’s in it?

Cynthia Erivo will star as Elphaba, a role originated by Idina Menzel on Broadway, while Ariana Grande will star opposite her as Glinda.

A vocal powerhouse, Erivo has won a Tony, Grammy, and daytime Emmy for her role as Celie in the revival of The Color Purple, per Variety. She’s also appeared in films like Harriet (which earned her an Oscar nomination) and Widows, and most recently portrayed Aretha Franklin in the TV show Genius.

Grande, an international pop star, has roots on the stage: She made her start in the 2008 Broadway musical 13 from composer Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Parade). Her other acting roles include Cat Valentine on Victorious in the early 2010s, which launched her into Nickelodeon stardom, Chanel in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, and an upcoming appearance in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. A longtime theater lover, Grande performed “The Wizard and I” from Wicked during an NBC live special in 2018.

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While the rest of the cast is still unknown, we have an idea of who’s working behind the scenes. Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights filmmaker Jon M. Chu will direct, which was announced in February 2021 after Billy Elliott helmer Stephen Daldry dropped out in October 2020. Marc Platt (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) will produce the Universal film.

Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the Broadway musical, and Stephen Schwartz, who composed the songs, are also working on the screenplay together, Variety reports.

Has filming started yet?

Not yet, but production is slated to begin in June 2022 in the U.K., per The Hollywood Reporter. Filming was supposed to commence in March in Atlanta, but was pushed back a few months and will now take place on sound stages in the newly built Sky Studios in Elstree, England.

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When is it coming out?

It’s too early to say, but fans have been eagerly waiting as Wicked has been years in the making. Talks of Universal making the movie musical first bubbled up in 2012. In 2016, the studio announced that the film would hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2019, but after production delays, another musical film, Cats, ended up debuting on that date instead. With shooting beginning next summer, it may be a while until we know when Wicked will be released—for good.

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