JJ Abrams And Rob Marshall In The Running To Direct Wicked

By Perri Nemiroff 2010-07-10 14:07:18discussion comments
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Itís been two years since we first heard of the plan to bring the Broadway musical Wicked to the big screen, but is producer Marc Platt finally taking steps toward making it a reality? According to Deadline, thatís exactly whatís happening. Apparently Platt, book writer Winnie Holzman and songwriter Stephen Schwartz are on the hunt for a director and JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy and Rob Marshall are all in the running.

Letís leave the potential directors aside for a moment. What took so long? With the musical itself having broken a number of Broadway box office records and moviegoers clamoring for more stage to film adaptations like Hairspray and Mamma Mia! , in some cases regardless of quality, Wicked The Movie is practically a guaranteed hit. That being said, it would also be quite the travesty to ruin such a fantastic piece of material and this is where the director issue comes into play.

The stage production has a handful of dark moments, yet, like most musicals, itís lighthearted, but not campy like Mamma Mia!. JJ Abrams just seems all wrong for the job. Should Wicked actually come to fruition, it should be a family piece and there isnít much on Abramsí resume that appeals to all four quadrants. James Mangold, on the other hand, could be a good option. Heís got a nice mixture of material under his belt, from dark and disturbing pieces like Girl, Interrupted and Identity to Kate & Leopold, a romantic comedy. Heís even got some musical experience having directed Walk the Line.

Itís quite obvious why Ryan Murphy is being tossed in the mix Ė Glee. The guy produced and wrote all 22 episodes, served as executive music producer for 21 of them and directed five. I happen to love the show, but that doesnít mean Iím behind him making the switch from TV musicals to big screen ones. In fact, his experience with Glee could actually work against him, potentially influencing his stylistic decisions for a feature project. Nobody will be happy with a Wicked movie that looks as though it could have just been a theme night for Glee. Lastly weíve got Rob Marshall and my argument for him comes down to this: itíll be quite a while before I can forgive him for Nine.

At this point, Iím pulling for Mangold, but Universal could really do better. Why not just stick with a good thing and go with the showís director Joe Mantello? Heís barely got any filmmaking experience, having directed only some 1997 film called Love! Valour! Compassion! , but perhaps a director that hasnít been tainted by the big budget Hollywood machine will be exactly what the project needs to preserve the showís assets.
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