After languishing in development for several years, Universal Pictures is finally moving forward with their adaptation of the Broadway sensation Wicked. The studio announced today that this long-awaited project has been given a December 20, 2019 release date. As of now, the movie's only direct competition is an untitled live action fairy tale project from Disney.
Deadline reports that producers Marc Platt and Universal Pictures had initially developed this story as a movie, before changing directions and crafting it as a stage show. The play opened in 2003, and quickly recouped its $14 million budget in 2004, en route to becoming one of the biggest Broadway musicals of all time. The production has grossed more than $1 billion on Broadway, and over $4 billion worldwide.
The play featured an original cast that included Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Joel Grey. Based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the play retells L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, while offering untold stories of other Oz characters such as Glinda the Good Witch, Prince Fieryo and the Wizard of Oz himself.
Universal first started developing the movie adaptation in 2010, with Marc Platt returning to produce. At the time, coveted filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams, James Mangold, Rob Marshall and Ryan Murphy were being sought to direct, but in 2012, Stephen Daldry signed on to direct, and he has been attached ever since. The filmmaker will work from a script by Winnie Holzman and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the story, music and lyrics for the play.
Back in 2014, Stephen Schwartz insisted that the movie adaptation was still coming together, and last year, Marc Platt teased that the Wicked movie was being eyed for a 2016 release date. Since we still have more than three years before this long-awaited stage adaptation hits theaters, it remains to be seen when casting will get under way. While we wait for more details, take a look at Universal Pictures' tweet, announcing the release date.