Wicked Part One: Plot, cast, release date as first images land
From stage to cinema, get all the key details of Elphaba’s big screen debut
It’s been a long time coming but we’ll soon get to relive one of the most popular stage shows of all time on the big screen, as Wicked: Part One arrives in November 2024.
Based on the Tony award-winning musical, which was itself based on author Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a cinema adaptation of this Wizard of Oz-set story has been gestating since way back in 2016.
After a stint in development hell where it was almost transformed into two different television takes, director Stephen Daldry originally signed on to direct a film adaptation in 2017 with a release date pencilled in for late 2019.
Read more: The cursed production of The Wizard of Oz
Production scheduling caused delays which were further hindered by the prolonged release date shuffling in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Eventually, Daldry bowed out and was replaced by Crazy Rich Asians’ helmer Jon M. Chu who wasted no time casting Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo as his leads.
In April 2023, Chu shared the first photos of his leading ladies in costume promising "They will lift ur spirits, break ur heart and leave you speechless with their voices,"
I’ve already been changed for good by these two women… #CynthiaErivo & #ArianaGrande as the Witches of Oz. They will lift ur spirits, break ur heart and leave you speechless with their voices. So excited to introduce you into our world… SO much more to come…… pic.twitter.com/Z2eDt3aWX0
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) April 16, 2023
What else can we expect from this hotly anticipated movie musical? Here’s everything we know about Wicked: Part One so far…
Based on Maguire’s book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the plot of the original stage show sticks fairly closely to this title and follows Elphaba, the green-skinned heroine who ultimately becomes Oz’s notorious Wicked Witch.
Together with Glinda the Good Witch, the story chronicles the friendship of these two opposing magical beings while working itself around an appearance from Dorothy and her iconic Ruby Slippers and tracing Elphaba’s misunderstood fall to the dark side of Oz and unlikely redemption.
Maguire’s book was adapted for the stage by dramatist and screenwriter Winnie Holzman and composer Stephen Schwartz, both of whom return to help shepherd the story into cinemas.
In April 2022, Chu, who previously spearheaded the musical movie In The Heights, revealed that the film would be split into two parts in order to do its story justice.
“As we prepared the production over the last year, it became impossible to wrestle the story of Wicked into a single film without doing some real damage to it,” Chu said in a statement.
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“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 all for so many years. 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 for these beloved characters.”
While the film is reported to stick closely to the familiar plot of the stage show, cast and crew have teased that the two-part movie will surprise viewers and also contain some new tracks composed by the show’s original songwriter.
"I can tell you that at least as of now there will be probably four new songs in the movie," said Schwartz back in 2016.
Leading the way is Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and musician-turned-actor Ariana Grande as Glinda, inheriting the roles made famous on stage by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, respectively.
Together, they’ll be joined by an ensemble cast that features Jeff Goldblum perfectly cast as the Wizard of Oz, Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh as magical headmistress Madame Morrible and Saturday Night Live castmember Bowen Yang as one of Glinda’s college pals.
Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey joins the cast as handsome prince Fiyero Tigelaar while star of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Ethan Slater, will appear as Boq, a munchkin that’s in love with Glinda.
Unfortunately, there’s currently no trailer available for Wicked: Part One however, that will hopefully soon change as the film’s release date gets closer.
Wicked release date
Wicked: Part One will whisk you away to Oz only in cinemas from 27 November, 2024.
Meanwhile, Wicked: Part Two is set for release in the US on Christmas Day, 25 December, 2025, meaning it will likely receive a Boxing Day release in the UK.
Wicked: Part One will be released on 27 November, 2024.