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Universal’s ‘Wicked’ Movie Hits New Speed Bump

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 10/27/2021 Borys Kit

It’s going to take a little longer for Elphaba and Glinda to be seen by the Wizard, and a little longer for audiences to see Wicked.

Universal’s adaptation of one of the biggest musicals of all time was set to begin shooting in March in Atlanta. But the production’s start has now been pushed to June, and it will relocate to the U.K., multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The delay, insiders say, will allow the filmmakers to get production efficiencies in-line, as Wicked will be the first production to shoot on stages at Universal’s recently built Sky Studios in Elstree. The project does not have an official green light and is technically still “in development,” although the Wicked film’s producers — Marc Platt, who also produced the stage iteration, and David Stone — and director Jon M. Chu have been told to proceed full steam ahead.

The delay is the latest wrinkle in the saga to bring Wicked to the screen. Universal has been developing a live-action feature since 2004, a year after it made its Broadway debut and went on to become one of three shows — along with The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera — to generate more than $1 billion in ticket sales.

The musical, an adaptation of the novel by Gregory Maguire, is a riff on the famous Wizard of Oz story, telling of the friendship between the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch. The Broadway version has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman.

Stephen Daldry had been attached to direct the project for years (and would’ve very likely shot it in the U.K. but left after scheduling and creative conflicts). Despite years of development, the script is still being written.

The film is a priority for Universal, which has weathered recent musical duds at the box office with Cats ($73.8 million global gross) and Dear Evan Hansen ($15.1 million) but also found success with Mamma Mia! ($611 million) and Les Misérables ($441 million).

Wicked, the studio hopes, will be a four-quadrant film that is also based on beloved IP.

This story appeared in the Oct. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.


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