Hit Broadway stage musicals such as Les Misérables and Into the Woods took a few decades to reached the big screen, but that might not end up being the case with the Wicked stage musical. Producer Marc Platt, who also worked on Into the Woods (and the cinematic adaptation of movie-turned Broadway musical Nine), has confirmed that the Wicked movie is currently on a trajectory to reach theaters as soon as 2016.
Wicked, for those not familiar, is the award-winning (and quite lucrative) Broadway musical that premiered in 2003, and is based on author Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. Both the musical and Maguire’s book are revisionist fairy tales that offer a backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West – whose real name is Elphaba – and paint the character as being more of a misunderstood anti-hero, while also revealing untold details about her sister and the witch Glinda.
Wicked stage musical lyricist Stephen Schwartz teased that the film adaptation was “gearing up” last year, some time after an ABC mini-series adaptation of Maguire’s original novel had failed to come together. Film Divider previously reported on a rumor that Wicked is aiming to reach the big screen in 2016; and thankfully, when the site asked Platt, the producer confirmed that although that date isn’t set in stone right now, that is indeed the goal for the time being.
“[A 2016 release date] is the goal, but I don’t know whether we’ll make that goal or not. We will make the movie, but like I said, the bar is really high. We’re going to scrutinise our work on the screenplay and our prep on the movie, and when we feel like it’s ready, okay. We’re not going to shoot a release date is what I’m saying. It’s in the works, it’s not in a rush. It took 27 years to make Into the Woods into a film from its original stage production, and 30 years with Les Mis. Some things take time for a reason.”
Platt then confirmed the standing rumor that Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry – director of such films as Billy Elliot, The Reader, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – is the helmsman on Wicked, adding that “he’s been on for a year or two.” The producer also mentioned the screenplay is in the process of being written by Winnie Holzman, who is refashioning her original Wicked musical book as a movie script (similar to what James Lapine did with Into the Woods).
Walt Disney Pictures offered filmgoers a Wicked Witch of the West backstory in Oz the Great and Powerful, and the Mouse House’s 2014 financial hit Maleficent was very clearly influenced by Wicked. However, whereas those two Disney live-action films were critically-divisive in their attempts to offer a feminist re-imagining of famous fairy tale villains, Wicked is still regarded as being the gold standard for fairy tale re-tellings that add more depth to their villains and heroes alike.
Daldry, all thing considered, doesn’t sound like a bad choice to bring Wicked to the big screen. He’s known for making films that are considered the epitome of Oscar bait, but he’s also a sensitive storyteller and his directorial efforts are, as a general rule, respectable (complaints about their awards-baiting nature aside). Billy Elliot, which is the film Daldry made his name with, even has some musical genre elements to it (and has since become a stage musical), so Daldry has experience in that field too.
Studios have gotten in the habit of releasing their stage musicals-turned films at the end of the year (next month’s The Last Five Years aside), as will continue in 2016, when 20th Century Fox unveils Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum biographical musical The Greatest Showman on Earth on Christmas Day.
Wicked, should it be ready to arrive in 2016, would likewise make sense as a Winter Holiday release; it’s got that mix of prestige and family-friendly appeal that could easily give rise to box office success, at that time of year. Fingers crossed, the project will keeping moving along down the pipeline at a steady pace; and that, before 2015 is done, we get more updates on casting and/or production starting.
We’ll continued to keep you updated on Wicked‘s development, as more information becomes available.