Ready for one of the most iconic villain origin stories to hit the big screen? The Wicked movie is officially on the way.
The Tony-winning Broadway musical — a Wizard of Oz prequel based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West — is finally heading to theaters next holiday season. Wicked is being adapted for not one, but two major motion pictures under Universal, and more and more confirmed details about the films are slowly trickling in.
Wicked first debuted on Broadway in 2003, where Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel originated the roles of Glinda and Elphaba. The interconnected story of the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West takes place long before Dorothy drops into the wonderful land of Oz. In fact, the prequel details the unlikely friendship between the two then-aspiring witches in their youth before they became enemies, changing the fate of their lives, and Oz, for good.
In case you haven’t heard by now, mega popstar Ariana Grande and Tony-winner Cynthia Erivo will lead the upcoming films as witches Glinda and Elphaba, respectively, and will be directed by Jon M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians and In The Heights fame.
So many developments have occurred since the Wicked movie musical adaptation was first announced, so we've gathered everything you need to know into one guide: from the buzzy cast to adaptation differences to the (multiple) release date changes to the special Super Bowl 2024 sneak peek at the film. Pro tip: Click an arrowed topic below to head straight there.
Are there trailers and first-look photos for the Wicked movies?
The first Wicked trailer arrived via prime Super Bowl 2024 placement on February 11, 2024. The minute-long trailer reveals a tantalizing first look at what the movie will feel and sound like, featuring high-flying colorful scenery and snippets of ambitious scenes, all set to “Defying Gravity.”
"Don't be afraid," Ariana Grande's Glinda says to Cynthia Erivo's Elphaba with tears in her eyes. “I'm not afraid. It's the wizard who should be afraid of me," Elphaba replies confidently.
Chu, Grande, and Erivo shared first-look photos from Wicked during production back in April 2023, posting never-before-seen images of the two witches on social media. Chu captioned his post, “You weren’t told the whole story. What happens when you veer off the Yellow Brick Road? FIRST LOOK of the #WickedMovie… currently in production in Oz. 🌪️🧹@WickedMovie @UniversalPics #2024.”
When are the Wicked movies coming out?
Between calendar shifts and COVID-19-related production delays, the release of the first Wicked movie has moved around quite a bit. A few months before its 2019 premiere, Universal announced that the movie had been pushed to December 22, 2021, though the pandemic set that date back, too. The next date was intended to be December 25, 2024, for Wicked: Part 1 and December 25, 2025, for Part 2.
However, both dates were moved up during the spring and summer of 2023. Now, according to Deadline, the first film is officially slated to theatrically release on November 27, 2024, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, with the second installment set to release almost exactly one year later on November 26, 2025.
What are the Wicked movies about?
Like Gregory Maguire’s book, the premise of the Wicked movies follow Glinda and Elphaba as students at Shiz University, where they, despite their differences, navigate friendship, magical training, and even romance, all while discovering their own identities. However, the alternate look at the world of Oz takes a turn when Elphaba is wrongfully deemed the "wicked" witch. The films are expected to chronicle how she became the villain we know her to be and explore her connections with other beloved Oz characters.
Who is in the cast of the Wicked movies?
As previously mentioned, Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo star as leads Glinda and Elphaba, the blonde-haired and green-skinned witches who anchor the movie musical extravaganza. During an appearance on Amazon Music's Zach Sang Show on February 26, 2024, Grande said she has “never wanted something as badly” as she wanted the role of Glinda, “hunting” producer Marc Platt for the past ten years.
“Since I was 20, I was like, ‘Hey, I don't know when this is happening, but when it's happening, may I please at least just audition?’" recalled Grande. "That's all I wanted, was an audition. I've never wanted anything more.”
Grande revealed that “prepping for the auditions [took] six months," involving rigorous “voice lessons every day [and] acting lessons every day." “I trained every single day to prove to [Wicked producers] that I could handle taking on this other person," Grande explained to Sang. "I had to completely erase popstar Ari, the person they know so well, because it’s harder to believe someone as someone else because they’re so branded as one thing. I had to really go all the way to strip that down.”
“I learned so much from Glinda,” Grande continued, calling the day she got the part “the best day of my life.” “I kind of healed a lot of parts of myself alongside and through her. And it actually helped me heal a lot of my own personal, weird stuff that I had with my relationship with music and to being an artist.”
Grande and Erivo announced their casting news in respective Instagram posts on November 4, 2021. Wicked alum Chenoweth gave the two stars her seal of approval via another IG post, which included a screenshot of one of Grande’s 2011 tweets where she called Glinda her “#dreamrole.”
Chenoweth wrote: “I’m not sure if I’ve ever been this proud. From the very first day I met you (swipe to see!!), you were destined for this role. Congratulations @arianagrande! The best Glinda you will be with @cynthiaerivo by your side 💗💚 I love you!! 🧚♀️👑🪄 @wickedmovie @wicked_musical #wicked.”
Chenoweth’s former costar, Menzel, echoed similar sentiments when she commented on Grande and Erivo’s casting news on X as well. “Congrats to two amazing women,” Menzel wrote. “May it change your lives for the better forever and ever as it has for us. So much love.”
Joining Erivo and Grande in the Wicked movie cast are Bridgerton breakout star Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, the witches’ love interest; Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, the headmistress of Crage Hall at Shiz University; Broadway veteran Ethan Slater (also Grande’s rumored boyfriend) as Boq, the romantic interest of Elphaba’s younger sister, Nessarose; and Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard.
Newcomer Marissa Bode will make her feature debut as Nessarose. Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang and Lockwood & Co. actor Bronwyn James also join the roster as Pfannee and ShenShen, respectively, Elphaba and Glinda’s classmates. Additional Wicked casting includes The Greatest Showman star Keala Settle as Miss Coddle, Hot Fuzz actor Colin Michael Carmichael as Professor Nikidik, and Aaron Teoh as Avaric.
Have the Wicked movies finished filming?
On December 7, 2022, Grande, Erivo, and Chu confirmed filming on the movie adaptations had begun via several Instagram Stories posts. In one post, the director shared a Wicked-themed drawing from his daughter “to commemorate the first day of shooting.”
Production temporarily shut down amid the SAG-AFTRA strike this past July. At the time, Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz confirmed to Variety that there were only 10 days left to complete filming parts one and two. Chu also shared an update during the strike, assuring fans that the “release date shouldn't be affected” on X: “Not done yet. Just paused until the strike is over and we can finish the last pieces of the movie. We were only a few days away from being done so we were SO close. It’s been very painful to put a halt to it all but we will be back! And we will finish properly strong when the time is right."
And time was eventually right: Ariana Grande herself announced she had wrapped filming for both of the Wicked movies with a cryptic post on January 25, 2023. “Like a handprint on my heart,” the star captioned a post on Instagram in reference to the song “For Good.” The post showed the silhouette of Grande as Glinda on set.
Resharing Grande's post to his stories, director Jon M. Chu wrote: “Will never forget my year with our Galinda. Can't wait for you to meet her. Thank you Ariana Grande for pouring your heart into Oz.” In another story, Chu tagged Cynthia Erivo, adding: “One more day left. Cynthia Erivo, are you ready?” Erivo replied: “As ready as I'll ever be!! Let's goooooo!” As of January 26, 2024, filming on both Wicked movies have wrapped.
When were the Wicked movies first announced?
The initial news of Universal’s Wicked movie adaptation broke in 2016, with its original theatrical release set for December 20, 2019. Evidently, there have since been delays that pushed the film to its current 2024 date. But on April 26, 2022, Chu shared news that clarified the reason behind the long wait.
“As we prepared the production over the last year, it became impossible to wrestle the story of Wicked into a single film without doing some real damage to it,” he wrote in a statement posted on X (formerly 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. 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 for these beloved characters.” Chu's two-part announcement delighted some fans while downright annoying others.
On February 11, 2024, the day the first trailer dropped, Wicked producer Marc Platt defended the decision to split up the movies to Vanity Fair. “We didn’t want to end up making one four-hour movie and then cutting out songs. We want to satisfy the fans of the musical,” said Platt. “Film allows you to create a place and a time — a university like Shiz, an extraordinary Emerald City governor’s mansion. There’s so much more to explore.”
How will the Wicked movie differ from the Broadway musical?
As mentioned, the Wicked movies will similarly follow the Broadway musical’s plot, though star Cynthia Erivo previously teased that some parts will take a slight departure from the original material. “I think it's going to be unlike anything you've ever seen before,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2022. “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.”
It also remains to be seen exactly where in the plot the coming-of-age tale will be split into two, but given Chu’s announcement, a two-parter will ensure a deeper dive into the story with some surprises along the way.
Will there be new music in the Wicked movies?
According to composer Schwartz, the upcoming Wicked movies will, indeed, include new musical material. Back in 2016, while speaking at a Behind the Music panel during Comic-Con, he predicted that there would “probably four new songs in the movie." At the time, Playbill reported that three of the songs would be newly written, while one was cut from the original Broadway production.
Be that as it may, on December 6, 2023, Schwartz shared an updated count of the new music with The Messenger: two brand-new songs, written exclusively for the film adaptations, will be featured in Wicked: Part 2.
“There are some expansions of stuff in the first movie. The point being, the new songs were written because of the demand of the story, not, 'Oh, let's write a new song and stick it in just because,'” said Schwartz. "The storytelling required it, and therefore they were created — the intention was that they were organic and not imposed on the movie."
“It's been very important to us to make sure that it is the show, that it is the story that the fans love and that they're coming to expect and not disappoint them,” he continued. “And at the same time, [it was also important to] be able to expand the story to make use of what the language of film and the technology of film allows you to do. As we talked about the story we wanted to tell, it was impossible really to get into one movie unless the movie were four hours long. And so the decision was made to make two movies. And consequently, there's new stuff that I think the fans will enjoy.”
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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