'Wicked' Heads to Big Screen with Jon M. Chu Directing

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday February 3, 2021

"Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu has signed on to direct the big-screen version of the long-running Broadway musical "Wicked," Deadline reports.

Chu has experience translating hit stage musicals to cinema; Deadline recalled that he directed the upcoming film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes play "In the Heights," which is scheduled for release this June.

Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot") had previously been slated to helm the long-in-development movie version of the musical, which features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, but issues around scheduling led to Daldry's departure, NBC News notes.

Chu, meantime, had stepped down from directing the television series version of the 1988 Ron Howard fantasy "Willow," due to production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing "worked out nicely for both parties," Deadline noted.

"A prequel to 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Wicked' tells the story of everything that happened before Dorothy dropped down in Oz," NBC News recounted, going on to add that Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth starred int he original Broadway production as onetime best friends - and, as adults, mortal enemies - the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch.

"Prior to prolonged theater closures, 'Wicked' had been one of the longest-running shows on the Great White Way," NBC News added. The show has enjoyed a seventeen-year run.

Though there's no release date or casting news yet, NBC did report that Schwartz is working on the screenplay together with Holzman. "Along with classics like 'Defying Gravity' and 'Popular,' the movie version is expected to feature at least two new songs," NBC News noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.