“One Short Day” in the Emerald City is turning into two longer stays.
The Wicked film will now come to theaters as two films, rather than one production, director Jon M. Chu announced Tuesday. The first film has set a premiere date of December 2024, with the second premiering the following Christmas.
“As we prepared the production over the past 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. As we tried to cut songs of trim characters, those decisions felt like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years,” Chu wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Chu also pledged to bring more depth to the characters with the two-part production. Cynthia Erivo will star as Elphaba and Ariana Grande will star as Glinda. Additional casting has not yet been announced.
This is the latest wrinkle in the saga of bringing the long-running Broadway hit to film. Universal has been developing the project since 2004. Previous director Stephen Daldry departed the film in 2020 due to scheduling conflicts, and the original release date of Dec. 22, 2021 was delayed due to COVID-19 production shutdowns.
The 2-hour and 45-minute stage musical, adapted from the novel by Gregory Maguire, is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and follows the friendship between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch. Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the score to the musical, is adapting Wicked for film with the musical’s bookwriter Winnie Holzman. Marc Platt, who produced the Broadway musical, is producing the film.
On Broadway, the musical has consistently been one of the top-grossing properties in the industry and brings in more than $1 million weekly.