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Wicked: Everything We Know About the Long-Awaited Movie Musical

Thank goodness: The Wicked movie is finally taking form. Nearly a decade after plans to adapt the smash-hit musical were announced, there are finally two superstar leads attached to the project: Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande.

Wicked, the spectacular Wizard of Oz prequel from Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, first hit the stage in 2003 and went on to win three Tony Awards and become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time. It’s no question that bringing the production to the screen will be a massive undertaking, but it’s also a highly anticipated one with a passionate built-in fanbase. In the Heights director Jon M. Chu, also a new addition to the project, is taking on the grand feat.

Full details on the film are still forthcoming, but Grande fans are already prepared to dust off their brooms and zip to theaters. Here’s what we do know so far.

What is Wicked about?

Based on Gregory Maguire’s bestselling book of the same name, Wicked tells the story of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West before they became the legendary figures in The Wizard of Oz. According to this telling, the two met (and clashed) as roommates at Shiz University, where they were then known as Galinda and Elphaba. But they formed an unlikely friendship and an unbreakable bond before pursuing separate paths that led to their famous monikers. The sweeping fantasy includes origin stories for other familiar Oz characters too.

When is it coming out?

So here’s the thing: there’ll be two Wicked films, each premiering on “successive Christmas holidays beginning December 2024,” director Jon M. Chu announced. (More on that below.) The first installment arrives on November 27, 2024. The second doesn’t have a date yet.

Talks of Universal making the movie musical first bubbled up in 2012. In 2016, the studio announced that the film would hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2019, but after production delays, another musical film, Cats, ended up debuting on that date instead. Now, however, we finally have dates to which we can look forward.

Wait, there’s a sequel?

Yes! Instead of cutting down on songs and characters, Wicked will take one story and break it into two parts, in the style of franchises like Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Dune. Chu first announced the news in April 2022.

“Here’s what happened: as we prepared this production over the last year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of WICKED into a single film without doing some real damage to it,” he shared on Instagram. “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. So 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 surprises to the journeys of these beloved characters.”

Who’s in the cast?

Cynthia Erivo will star as Elphaba, a role originated by Idina Menzel on Broadway, while Ariana Grande will star opposite her as Glinda, originated by Kristin Chenoweth.

A vocal powerhouse, Erivo has won a Tony, Grammy, and daytime Emmy for her role as Celie in the revival of The Color Purple, per Variety. She’s also appeared in films like Harriet (which earned her an Oscar nomination) and Widows, and portrayed Aretha Franklin in the TV show Genius.

Grande, an international pop star, has roots on the stage: She made her start in the 2008 Broadway musical 13 from composer Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Parade). Her other acting roles include Cat Valentine on Victorious in the early 2010s, which launched her into Nickelodeon stardom, Chanel in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. A longtime theater lover, Grande performed “The Wizard and I” from Wicked during an NBC live special in 2018.

Jeff Goldblum will play The Wizard, and Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh will play Madame Morrible, a headmistress at Shiz University, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed. The role of love interest Fiyero went to Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey, and Chu says his casting is “perfect.”

"bridgerton" series 2 world premiere arrivals

Jonathan Bailey

Jeff Spicer//Getty Images

Marissa Bode will play Nessarose, Elphaba’s younger sister. Broadway actor Ethan Slater (Tony-nominated for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical) will play Boq, Nessarose’s love interest.

Saturday Night Live‘s Bowen Yang will play Pfannee and Bronwyn James (The Dig) will play ShenShen, classmates at Shiz, according to Deadline. The Greatest Showman‘s Keala Settle will play Miss Coddle, Aaron Teoh will play Shiz student Avaric, and Colin Michael Carmichael will play professor Nikidik.

As for who’s working behind the scenes. Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights filmmaker Jon M. Chu will direct, which was announced in February 2021 after Billy Elliott helmer Stephen Daldry dropped out in October 2020. Marc Platt (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) will produce the Universal film.

Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the Broadway musical, and Stephen Schwartz, who composed the songs, are also working on the screenplay together, Variety reports.

Has filming started yet?

Production began in June 2022 in the U.K., per The Hollywood Reporter, on sound stages in the newly built Sky Studios in Elstree, England. On April 3, 2023, Grande shared that the cast and crew were halfway through filming.

“halfway,” she wrote. “savoring every millisecond left with my Galinda (although she’ll be with me irrevocably, forever). she shows me so many new things every day.” Read the full post below.

What has the original Wicked cast said about the film?

Broadway favorite Kristin Chenoweth originated the role of Glinda in 2003, and she had the perfect throwback pic to celebrate Ariana Grande taking the reins. On Instagram, Chenoweth posted a few pics, the first of which was a screenshoot of a tweet from Grande in December of 2011, in which Grande wrote, “Loved seeing Wicked again…amazing production! Made me realize again how badly I want 2 play Glinda at some point in my life! #DreamRole.”

The next slide was an adorable black and white photo of Chenoweth posing with a very young Grande.

In the caption, Chenoweth wrote, “I’m not sure if I’ve ever been this proud. From the very first day I met you (swipe to see!!), you were destined for this role. Congratulations @arianagrande! The best Glinda you will be with @cynthiaerivo by your side I love you!!”

Grande responded in the comments, writing, “words don’t suffice. i love you more than i can say, i always have and always will. and her. thank you for holding my hand.”

Fellow Broadway superstar Idina Menzel also celebrated the news. Per E! News, she wrote on Instagram after the announcement: “Congrats to two amazing women. May it change your lives for the better forever and ever as it has for us. So much love. @cynthiaerivo @arianagrande.”

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Headshot of Erica Gonzales

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now. 

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