The announcement that the big screen adaptation of Wicked was being split into two movies ended up splitting fans of the musical. While it seems strange to see why the under three hour musical would become two movies, and how that would impact big set pieces like the phenomenal central song of Defying Gravity, composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz has shed some light on why the movie had to become a two parter, and a lot of it comes down to that epic song.
Wicked is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, which turns the story of the Wizard of Oz on its head to look at things from the perspective of Elphaba, the infamous Wicked Witch of The West. In 2003, a Broadway musical based on the book made its debut and has since gone on to become the second highest grossing Broadway musical ever, but it has taken almost 20 years to bring the story to the big screen.
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Having passed from studio to studio, going through numerous directors and writers, the recent surge in movie musicals has made this the perfect time for Wicked to finally make its mark in cinemas, and in the last year has secured Jon M. Chu as director, with Cynthia Ervio taking on the role of Elphaba and Ariana Grande playing Glinda The Good Witch of the North. While the movies will expand on the stage show with new songs and an expanded story taken from the novel, in an interview with Schwartz Scene, Stephen Schwartz broke down the thought process behind the two movie approach. He said:
“The truth is we tried for some time to make it one movie, even if it had to be one very long movie. But we kept running into two problems. The first is that even as a very long single movie, it required us cutting or omitting things that we wanted to include and that we think fans of the show and the story will appreciate. Secondly, we found it very difficult to get past ‘Defying Gravity’ without a break. That song is written specifically to bring a curtain down, and whatever scene to follow it without a break just seemed hugely anti-climactic. So, for these two reasons, plus the excitement of doing something that’s never been done before with a musical, we have decided to do two movies. Of course, when it’s all done, if it doesn’t work that way, we’ll have to figure something out. But we strongly believe that this is what’s best for our story, our show, and our fans.”
Wicked Stage Stars Are Open To Appearing In The Movie
WICKED The Musical
When Wicked opened on Broadway in 2003, Frozen star Idina Menzel became the first person to perform the iconic Defying Gravity on stage as Elphaba, alongside theatrical legend Kristen Chenoweth. The question of whether the pair will appear in the movie is something that both seem open to, and even director Chu had comments that a cameo appearance could be possible. Previously talking to People, Menzel joked about the possibility of her being asked to play Elphaba in the movie. She said at the time:
“If they asked me to do it at the age of 51, I would say, sure – just put a little Vaseline on the lens, throw some green makeup on me, use a little CGI, and I’ll look gorgeous. But no, it’s all good. That ship has sailed.”
Of course there is going to be a large ensemble cast in the movie, and it would not be too hard to have the two icons back together on screen in some way. All will be revealed when the movie makes its dual debut, with Wicked Part 1 set to open in December 2024, and Part 2 in December 2025.
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