Wicked Director John M. Chu Reveals The Surprising Way The Broadway Musical Will Be Adapted Into Film, And Wow

Poster for Wicked
(Image credit: Wicked LLC)

Wicked fans have been waiting for a feature film adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical for a while now. The project has seen its fair share of starts and stops since the movie discussions began in 2003. Thankfully, there seems to be hope at the end of the yellow brick road, as production is finally ramping up under the direction of John M. Chu. Since the Crazy Rich Asians alum took the gig, he’s shared occasional updates about the progress that’s being made. Now, Chu has revealed a huge detail about how the play is being adapted, and wow.

The always delightful John M. Chu posted this most recent announcement to Twitter, in the form of a screenshot from his “OzPhone.” In it, the director confirmed that the adaptation will be split into two movies and not a single installment as many assumed. Chu also explained the decision to divide the story into two parts: 

Here’s what happened: as we prepared this production over the last year. It became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of WICKED into a single film without doing some real damage to it. As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions began to feel like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us for so many years. So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas and make not just one WICKED movie but TWO!!!!! With more space, we can tell the story of WICKED as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters.

This is a very tall order, but one that admirers of the stage play are sure to appreciate. The show, which is based on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, has a number of memorable scenes and musical numbers like “Popular” and “Defying Gravity.” Those are sure to be sights to behold on a big screen. One has to wonder at what point the story will be split up. The musical has two acts, so the director and his collaborators could divide it up that way. Regardless though, the pair of features are in good hands with the Step Up alum. You can see the rest of his message down below: 

See more

John M. Chu has an interesting body of work, as he’s worked within multiple genres, including action and comedy. He made his mark within the realm of cinematic musicals with his 2021 adaptation of In the Heights, though. Not only was a pitch-perfect translation of Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work, it also gifted audiences with a movie starring a predominantly Latino cast. And Chu’s casting for his newest venture is already off to a very impressive start. 

Back in November, Wicked found its two leads in Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, who will play Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. The director even managed to capture their emotional reactions to being cast. Shortly after, both actresses got the seal of approval from their OG predecessors, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. Erivo confirmed just last month that she and Grande are already building chemistry and both are incredibly excited to get into the thick of things. The rest of the cast is sure to be stacked with serious talent (yet I wouldn’t count on James Corden being added to the roster).

The adaptation is definitely shaping up to be something special, and it’ll be exciting to see what John M. Chu and co. create. Based on his recent message, he clearly understands just how important this story is to people, and he’s sure to take great care while bringing this Wizard of Oz spinoff to the silver screen. 

The first Wicked movie is set to hit theaters in December 2024 with the second arriving at the same time the following year.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.