Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical In The Heights, Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Broadway tentpole Wicked has traversed a very rocky road towards its big, long-announced Hollywood adaptation. Seriously, we’ve been on this beat since 2011 (and it was in talks way before that) when Ryan Murphy was rumored to direct and Brett Ratner inexplicably wanted in on the project. We’ve witnessed a parade of false starts, departed directors, and at least one very confident tweet from Universal Pictures pegging the film’s release to December 2019. As long as there’s a Development Limbo, there’s at least one stunted Broadway-To-Big Screen project occupying its neutral space patiently while singing some gorgeous, sad-ass ballad.
The mellifluous Wizard Of Oz now shares another commonality with In The Heights: Jon M. Chu’s involvement. According to Deadline and Variety, the Crazy Rich Asians director has stepped in to take over for Stephen Daldry, who had to drop the project due to scheduling conflicts. This could result in a rather promising development. After all, Chu was the director that brought Miranda’s long-awaited adaptation to completion and made a solid release date possible. For his part, Chu seems really excited to be a part of this winding journey. “Most of my life I have felt out of place, weird and different. I hid behind my camera because people liked to be filmed and I could disappear.”
He continues: “But when I saw Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Wicked over 15 years ago as it was being workshopped in San Francisco I couldn’t unsee it. So to think that I have been invited to bring this timeless story to the biggest screens all around the world for people to experience with their family, best friends and total strangers… of all walks of life, ages, shapes and colors is like I’ve been invited to Oz by the Wizard himself.”
He even went as far as to encourage a bit of fan casting, asking his many followers to suggest talent for the leading roles. As a tacit rule, you don’t get a theater nerd’s hopes up if you don’t seriously plan to deliver something. If anyone can manage it, it’s him. (We hope.)
As of right now, Wicked does not have any attached creators beyond Chu, nor does it have a set premiere date.