Munchkins rejoice! Wicked, the film based on one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time, finally has a release date. Rumors have been swirling for years about the magical musical making its way to the silver screen, but as more and more time passed with no significant news, it would appear it's been somewhat of a difficult journey. But Universal finally came through and it looks like we'll all soon be defying gravity, with the announcement that the big-screen adaption of Wicked will officially hit theaters on December 20, 2019. Thank goodness!
The release date was the easy part. The much more important and larger task lay in casting the leading roles of Elphaba and Glinda. When looking at who in Hollywood could tackle these roles, you don't have to look much further than a little animated film named Frozen and its two stars, Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, a.k.a Elsa and Anna. Yes, I am calling for a Frozen/Wicked crossover, and I think Hollywood is on the same page.
Anna And Elsa, Defying Gravity
To be honest, I'm not really at that place where I can debate anyone else being cast as the Wicked leads. No argument can be made against the fact that Menzel was born to play Elphaba. Her performance as Oz's resident wicked witch in the original Broadway run was really the core of what made Wicked the sensation it is. Could you really imagine anyone else's voice powering through "Defying Gravity" the way Menzel does? Not only that, she has proven time and again she can easily cross over into film and film musicals, as she did for the adaptation of Rent.
I know what you're thinking: She's too old; Hollywood will never cast a 45-year-old as the college-aged girl with a heart as green as gold. But hear me out. Hollywood is ageist. Just look at half the actors they cast to play teens and college kids nowadays *cough* The CW *cough*. They are definitely not teens. Look at Alexis Bledel, who was way older than her 15-year-old character on Gilmore Girls. Hollywood can overcome its ageist problem if the fans demand it.
The bottom line is Universal wants Wicked to be huge. Why do you think it has taken so long to get it off the ground? Studios and producers want to be 100 percent sure this endeavor will succeed, that the audience is primed and ready to turn it into box office glory. So why on this green Earth would Hollywood miss the chance to reunite one of the most beloved big-screen couplings of recent years? Frozen grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide. That, my friends, is a box office goldmine that Wicked has the opportunity to dig into.
Beyond looking the part, Menzel and Bell's voices are two of the most widely recognized around the world, even by people who have never seen Frozen. This is key when casting a film; you need big names to bring in the bucks. It's just a fact.
It just so happens that these two big names don't need to be used just for their fame, because they have the talents to fulfill the roles. If Hollywood doesn't cast Menzel in the Wicked film adaptation, it would be missing a golden opportunity to make an adaptation worthy of fans while also engaging new audiences that will drive it to box office success.
Now, let me be clear. I loved Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway show and it would be my dream to have her in the film alongside her original Broadway co-star. But I will be the first to admit her casting really is reaching. At almost 50 years old, I don't believe — as I do Menzel — that Chenoweth could pull off playing a college kid.
Kristen Bell, however? Yeah! The woman still looks 16 years old (reminder: Google Bell's beauty routine). Bell and Menzel are like peanut butter and jelly — two great tastes that taste great together. Hollywood just needs to take a page from Wicked itself and learn how to be "Popular" with the fans by overcoming its ageism problem and listening to them. I truly think that as we speak, discussions are being had in La La Land over the possibility of Menzel and Bell leading Wicked, and crazier casting decisions have happened before.
Some Other Wicked Options
I'll be the first to admit that my dream cast is a bit of a long shot, and while I stand by it, Tinseltown does have an exceptional array of talented women on offer. I hope, however, Universal doesn't go for the same picks we see in every film/musical adaptation, like Anna Kendrick and Anne Hathaway. Both are exceptionally talented, but give us something fresh, Hollywood! Audiences demand it.
I think that's why Wicked was green-lit when it was. Audiences are more interested in musicals now than in recent memory, and fresh talents are ripe for the plucking. Renée Elise Goldsberry, who recently won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Hamilton, would make an outstanding Elphaba. Even Emily Blunt, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her vocals in the film adaptation of Into the Woods, or actress-singer Zendaya are a few I think should be considered .
As for Glinda, Disney star Olivia Holt comes to mind, as does one of my favorites, Megan Hilty. If done right, Wicked the film could transcend its Broadway roots, reaching a previously untapped audience of millions worldwide, and enriching their lives for the better.
Oh, and no matter who you think should play Elphaba and Glinda, I think we can all agree that The Flash's Grant Gustin is Fiyero, right? Hey, maybe all we have to do to find the right cast is look to the northern sky and click our heels three times.Wicked is scheduled to hit theaters on 20 December, 2019.