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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

'Wicked': Long-awaited film of hit musical to be helmed by director Jon M Chu

The big-screen adaptation, which has been in the works for years, appears to be back on the cards with the latest announcement

Idina Menzel originated the role of Elphaba in 'Wicked' on Broadway. Shutterstock 
Idina Menzel originated the role of Elphaba in 'Wicked' on Broadway. Shutterstock 

It's been waiting in the wings for more than a decade, but a film version of hit musical Wicked looks set to defy gravity and soar to screens.

The beleaguered adaptation, which was first rumoured as far back as 2004, has tapped director Jon M Chung to helm the project, signifying it is once again a focus for Universal Pictures.

The film studio first hired director Stephen Daldry to bring Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's musical to cinemas in 2012. Cast announcements were never made, but a release date was scheduled for December 2021. However, in April 2020, amid the pandemic, Universal quietly dropped Wicked from its calendar, with nothing more to be heard of it until this week.

Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights director Chu confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday that he had joined the project, revealing: "Most of my life I have felt out of place, weird and different. I hid behind my camera because people liked to be filmed and I could disappear.”

“But when I saw Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Wicked over 15 years ago as it was being workshopped in San Francisco I couldn’t unsee it,” he continued.

“So to think that I have been invited to bring this timeless story to the biggest screens all around the world for people to experience with their family, best friends and total strangers … of all walks of life, ages, shapes and colours is like I’ve been invited to Oz by the Wizard himself.”

The director did not share any further information about a release date or anyone else attached to the project, though he did cryptically tweet: "Twitterverse, who should we cast?"

Billy Elliot filmmaker Daldry left the adaptation last October because of scheduling conflicts, Variety reports.

The film follows the hit musical, which debuted on Broadway in 2003. The show is itself an adaptation of Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which tells the origins story of The Wizard of Oz's green-skinned antagonist.

Set prior to Dorothy Gale arriving in Oz, the musical is centred on Elphaba, who later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, and her unlikely pal-turned-enemy Galinda, later known as Glinda the Good Witch. In a tale of love, friendship and loyalty, a turn of events has Elphaba deemed "wicked", as the plot weaves into the narrative of The Wizard of Oz.

The Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical's original Broadway stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Galinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard.

Well-known tracks include The Wizard and I, Something Good and No Good Deed, with original composer Schwartz revealing the film adaptation will contain a number of new songs.

Updated: February 3, 2021 02:34 PM

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