Ever since the Wicked musical debuted back in 2003, fans have been clamouring for a big screen adaptation. And after the runaway success of Les Miserables and Into the Woods, Disney are preparing to release an adaptation of Wicked sometime in the near future. Presumably, the Wicked movie will follow on from the stage play, with all the fantastic songs and beautiful sets this will bring us. But can it hope to live up to the original? And will Idina Menzel reprise her role?
Tentative Release Date
The Wicked movie announcement came on the heels of Into The Woods' release, as producer Marc Platt revealed that yes, we will be seeing Wicked on the big screen uh... at some point.
"The process of developing that movie has begun, we’re working on it, and whether it makes 2016 or not, I’m not so sure."
That's not exactly the dramatic announcement Wicked fans had hoped for, but it's still an exciting idea. The aim is to produce this movie in time for a winter 2016 release date, but that may be too ambitious for so grand a project.
"2016 is the goal, but I don’t know whether we’ll make that goal or not. We will make the movie, but like I said, the bar is really high. We’re going to scrutinise our work on the screenplay and our prep on the movie, and when we feel like it’s ready, okay. We’re not going to shoot a release date is what I’m saying. It’s in the works, it’s not in a rush. It took 27 years to make Into the Woods into a film from its original stage production, and 30 years with Les Mis. Some things take time for a reason."
It's easy to see what Platt means: the sets alone for Wicked would take months to create, not to mention the costumes, script, and scoring. It's a complex adaptation to achieve, and considering the huge fanbase the musical has won, the movie has a lot to live up to.
So what can we expect to see from the film? The music will definitely be included, though not all songs will feature in the film: with a shorter run time, most movie musical adaptations cut the weaker pieces to make time for the big numbers. Defying Gravity, naturally, will be the movie's high note. But if you're hoping for Idina Menzel to belt out the showstopping number, prepare to be disappointed...
Menzel & Chenoweth Rejected
Wicked catapulted Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth to fame: the original Elphaba and Galinda, the actresses went on to star in several TV and film productions. Idina Menzel's biggest live action features are Rent and Enchanted, though of course she's best known for voicing Queen Elsa in Frozen. Considering the actress' fame and long time connection to Wicked, it's possible they'll be cast in the new movie adaptation... but not as the starring roles.
Earlier this year, Menzel revealed that both she and Chenoweth received some disappointing news about their role in the upcoming film.
"I would die to be in [the movie], except I’m afraid Kristin and I… they told us we’re a little over the age for that."
Joking about the possibility of playing Elphaba's mother, the actress made it clear that she's grateful for the critical acclaim of her musical role.
"If I could be a part of it in some way, that would be great. But I already feel like I received — and continue to receive — the gifts from Wicked and how it affects audiences."
It would be fantastic to see Idina Menzel in the film but it's true that she wouldn't quite be believable playing a college-age young woman. Here's hoping the studio take her up on her offer to play Elphaba's mother!
The Disney Problem
Aside from the casting, there are a few other hurdles that the Wicked movie has to clear.
Though it was generally well recieved, the Into The Woods film did face some criticism for "sanitising" the story, leeching the musical of its darkest moments and ensuring it failed to pack an emotional punch. Many critics believed Disney went too far in trying to cater to the family friendly market, therefore missing the entire point of the Stephen Sondheim original musical: that this story was an attempt to get back to the truly terrifying fairy tales of lore.
Wicked definitely has some dark moments: it deals with complex themes of prejudice and oppression, and there's definitely a horrific element with the spells that never quite go right. So could the big screen adaptation blunt the story's wicked edge? It's certainly possible, but the musical itself is already a tame adaptation of the original book, which featured a fair bit of R rated content, as well as some distinctly non-platonic moments between Elphaba and Galinda.
Ultimately, the Wicked musical is primed for a big screen adaptation: it's glossy, it's fun, it's got a killer soundtrack and a fantastic story. Whether the film can live up to the hype remains to be seen, but at least we know they're taking the time to get it right!
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