The Film Adaptation Of Wicked Will Be Split Into 2 Films And I Can’t Tell If I’m Excited Or Scared

Director Jon M. Chu announced this afternoon that the film adaptation of the musical Wicked will be broken into a series of two films. Sound familiar book fans?

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In 2016, Bustle published an article that discusses the trend of many book-to-film adaptations being split into 2 films. The origin of this trend is often attributed to the Harry Potter franchise, which split the final book, Deathly Hallows, into 2 movies. Other big franchises such as Twilight and The Hunger Games quickly followed. The latest victim of this opinion-sparking trend is the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked.

Wicked is based on the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. That novel is of course based on the universe first created in the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. 

The upcoming film adaptation announced pop star, Ariana Grande, and Tony Award winner, Cynthia Erivo, as protagonists Glinda and Elphaba, respectively, back in November of 2021. 

It was then announced on April 26th, 2022 that the project will actually consist of 2 movies, allowing the plot to be extended over the span of 2 films. The films will be directed by Jon M. Chu (director of Crazy Rich Asians and In The Heights). The films will premiere on December 25, 2024, and December 25, 2025. 

This decision is not entirely surprising, considering the other adaptations that have done the same, but I am intrigued by how this decision might play out. As a media-lover and a longtime Wicked fan, I’d like to discuss some potential pros and cons. 

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Pros:

Extra Storytelling

Jon M. Chu’s Instagram announcement from April 26th states: “with more space, we can tell the story of Wicked as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters.” 

I agree that splitting Wicked into 2 movies does provide some interesting opportunities. As someone who has loved the show for so long, the potential for extra world-building and character development is exciting. As long as this extra time is used well, I think the story will feel more developed and thought-out. 

All Of The Songs Will Be Included

Looking back to Chu’s Instagram post, one line reads “as we tried to cut songs…” That’s all I had to hear to be on board with this decision. While there are a few Wicked songs I wouldn’t mind never hearing again (looking at you “Something Bad” and “A Sentimental Man”), there is no way to know if those are the songs Chu is referring to. I cannot imagine a Wicked film that does not include all of my favorite tunes.

More Time To Be And Stay Excited

I guess there are some pros to the extra time we will have to wait to see the entire story play out, right? Press tours, awards seasons, behind the scenes footage, will all be amplified by this decision. And hey, at the very least I’ve now got my Christmas Day movie plans figured out for both 2024 and 2025. 

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Cons:

Do We Need Two Movies?

Sure, while some extra storytelling could be nice, I can’t help but wonder what exactly production is looking to add. I saw Wicked on Broadway twice and thought the story was well-developed, engaging, and had a nice, complete ending. Wicked runs for about 2 and a half hours (not counting intermission). According to a Whattowatch.com study, the average film length in 2021 was 131 minutes. Going off of that data, 2 Wicked movies would come out to a total of at least an hour and a half of extra content. Again, I can’t help but wonder what content the filmmakers were struggling to fit into one film. It’s likely that the filmmakers would provide a thoughtful and common-sense answer to this question, but until I see these films these questions will remain in my mind.

Will Splitting Up The Plot Work?

Not only is it going to be weird to see the end of what is usually Act 1 and then have to go home, but splitting up the story might make viewers who are unfamiliar with the plot feel confused or left with a sense of unfinishedness. Of course, the story will be finished, but a year is a long time to make sure your audience is engaged and eager to see the second film. Can a second movie survive without “Defying Gravity”?

We’ve Been Waiting Forever

Talks of a Wicked movie began in 2010. Since then, it feels like a new version of “the Wicked movie” is announced every year. Potential directors, fan casts, and release dates have all been discussed for over a decade. We have waited long enough. If the film is as good as I hope it will be, then I guess I will have to wait another year for the completed story. But I am surely losing hope.

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Clearly, I’m torn on this issue, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get. See you at the movie theater on December 25th, 2024! (…and 2025, too)

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