dividing gravity

A tornado just tore up the ‘Wicked’ movie…

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Fans of the musical Wicked desperate to see a big screen version of the show hit screens just got some odd news: director John M. Chu has announced the movie will be split into two films, released a year apart.

Wicked tells a prequel story to The Wizard of Oz centered on the witches of the titular fairyland. Since its inception, a movie version has hit one roadblock after the next. Universal Studios, the Hollywood house producing the film, struggled for years to find a suitable director for the film. Stephen Daldry eventually signed on to helm the project in 2016, though further production delays eventually prompted him to leave. Universal then pulled the film from its schedule, replacing it with Cats. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed filming by another two years. Work on the movie ramped up in 2021 when In the Heights’ Chu joined the production as director, and with the subsequent announcement that Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande would play the leads, Elphaba and Glinda, respectively.

Related: Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo to star in movie version of Wicked

Now the film has hit another snag. Chu released a statement on Twitter on April 26, announcing the splitting of the film in two, along with projected release dates of Christmas 2024 and Christmas 2025.

“As we prepared the production over the last year, it became impossible to wrestle the story of Wicked into a single film without doing some real damage to it,” Chu wrote. “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. 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 surprise to the journeys for these beloved characters.”

Chu further went on to assure fans that he, along with the cast, is committed to creating the best version of the movie possible.

Frankly, as fans of author Gregory Maguire’s original novel, the announcement of the splitting of Wicked gives us a bit of hope. In adapting the book to the stage, writer Winnie Holzman, who is also penning the screenplay, jettisoned a number of key subplots, characters, and themes from the narrative. Here’s hoping she, along with Chu, retains more of the novel’s observations on sexuality, politics, and religious fanaticism in Oz.

Time will tell. In the meantime, have a look at how Wicked fans are reacting on Twitter: