Given that there are approximately 279 film projects focused around various takes on The Wizard of Oz floating around Hollywood right now, Universal finally starting to shift into gear on adapting the musical Wicked seems like getting in on the action a little too late. But that’s not stopping the studio, which has apparently taken meetings or heard from the likes of JJ Abrams, Rob Marshall, James Mangold and Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy on the idea of directing the eventual film.
Wicked, adapted from Gregory Maguire’s bestseller about the early days, private lives and real motivations of Galinda and Elphaba (who would become Glinda the Good and The Wicked Witch of the West respectively), was originally aimed for the screen years ago. But producer Marc Platt and the Universal bods opted to turn it into a stage musical instead, with the result spawning one of the most successful theatrical productions of all time. Adding up all the various city-based and touring productions, Wicked has earned more than $2 billion so far. Which might go some way to explain why no one has been in a hurry to exploit its massive movie opportunities… at least until now.
We’re in a post-Alice in Wonderland world, and with the mad Oz scramble on, the chance to bring a movie that has a massive built-in fan base and quick recognition factor for even those who have never heard of the thing to the screen must be a huge attraction for Universal, which is clearly hoping for another success along the lines of Mamma Mia!
And that list of directors is certainly… eclectic, which seems to indicate just how much interest there is in making this thing. And while we can see exactly why Murphy, Marshall and even Mangold (who dabbled with musically-flavoured filmmaking to a lesser degree on Walk The Line) would be interested, JJ Abrams’ name is the odd one out. And that’s despite his musical contributions to his TV work. Still, he knows how to stage spectacle, which Wicked would surely need.
According to Deadline, the studio will hold more meetings with interested filmmakers once the musical’s songwriter Stephen Schwartz and book writer Winnie Holzman hit town later this year, with the plan to get the movie made as soon as possible.
So tell us, Wicked fans… Who would you cast? Itching to see Universal go the Rent route and put original musical stalwarts Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth in the leads? Or did the failure of Christopher Columbus’ adaptation point to the fact that you need new blood? The story does start with the two main girls at school, so maybe the likes of Glee’s Lea Michele (who looks enough like Menzel that the musical star was cast to play her mother on the show) can get a shot…