Everyone deserves the chance to fly: What to expect from the film of Wicked

Wicked Film poster

by Becky Fuller |
Published on

From flying monkeys to a spine-tingling trailer, here's all you need to know

More than a decade after plans for a Wicked film were announced, the trailer has finally arrived. The musical Wicked, set before The Wizard of Oz, became a smash-hit on Broadway when it made its debut in 2003. Starring Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, Wicked captured the hearts and imaginations of sell-out audiences and unsurprisingly made the transfer to London’s West End where it’s been running since 2006.

In 2012, Universal Pictures confirmed that Wicked would be adapted into a film, and after very long delays, Jon M. Chu was announced as the director – he also directed In the Heights musical film in 2021.

Whether you’re a big fan of the musical already or know nothing about it, the film of Wicked is likely to be one of the cinematic highlights of 2024 when it’s released in November. So read on for plot details, the all-star cast list and more.

What is the film of Wicked about?

Wicked tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the west, as featured in The Wizard of Oz. The musical is loosely based on the book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire which in turn is based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (and its subsequent film).

Wicked is told from the perspective of two young witches in the Land of Oz, Elphaba, who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, who becomes Glinda the Good (you might remember her arriving in a bubble in The Wizard of Oz).

The musical focuses on the unlikely friendship between the pair as they go through university together, including their own journey to meet the Wizard of Oz and ultimately, Elphaba’s fall from grace.

Featuring songs such as ‘Defying Gravity,’ ‘Popular,’ and ‘Dancing Through Life,’ Wicked has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman.

Is Wicked a prequel to The Wizard of Oz?

Both the book and stage musical (and indeed the upcoming film) fit in the Oz timeline before the events of The Wizard of Oz, and end soon after Dorothy’s arrival, meaning Wicked is effectively a prequel. However, the book wasn’t written by L. Frank Baum. It claims to tell the ‘true story’ of the Wicked Witch of the West, and, for fans of The Wizard of Oz, there are many recognisable elements in the musical, such as flying monkeys and Oz the Great and Powerful. There are other things too, but that would spoil the musical, so we won’t mention them here!

Will Dorothy appear in the film of Wicked?

In the musical, Dorothy only appears as a silhouette towards the end of the show. However, there’s nothing to say that Jon M. Chu won’t alter this for the film. Right now, we don’t know, but he might decide to have her appear on screen, or any mention of her may be cut altogether.

Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo
©Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz

Who is in the Wicked film cast?

Wicked has assembled an all-star cast for its big screen adaptation, including names from musical theatre, film and TV. Leading the pack is Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Arianna Grande as Glinda.

Erivo is an English actress best known for her stage work. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress starring in the Broadway revival of A Colour Purple. Grande is a global pop sensation, having made her name starring in the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, as a child actress. She has won numerous accolades during her career including Grammy awards and 36 Guinness World Records. She is recognised by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest female vocalists of all time.

Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Yeoh
©Getty Images / Samir Hussein / Pascal Le Segretain

Rounding out the cast of Wicked is Jurassic Park star Jeff Goldblum as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero – a fellow student with Elphaba and Glinda, and Michelle Yeoh as teacher Madame Morrible. Yeoh is a recent Oscar winner, becoming the first Asian woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once in 2022.

Wicked also features Broadway star Ethan Slater as Boq, Peter Dinklage as the voice of Doctor Dillamond, and The Greatest Showman star Keela Settle as Miss Coddle, a new role created specifically for the film.

Jonathan Bailey
©Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris

Why is the film of Wicked in two parts?

Fans were surprised when director Chu announced that Wicked would be released in two parts, with part one arriving in November 2024 and part two appearing a year later. Speaking in 2022, Chu said: “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…. 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.”

Rumour has it that the film of Wicked has more elements from the book in it than the stage musical does, and we know that there’s at least two new songs. There’s new characters, too, such as Glinda’s father and the aforementioned Miss Coddle.

All of this leaves fans speculating at what point part one will end. It’s possible it will fall when the interval does for the stage show – when Elphaba takes to the skies singing Defying Gravity. We will have to wait until November 29th (in the UK) to find out!

Becky Fuller is a senior digital writer for Yours.co.uk. She is also a fully qualified personal trainer and strength coach, specialising in fitness and wellbeing for over 50s. Prior to joining Yours, Becky was a fitness writer for Saga, and a freelance entertainment and theatre journalist. Becky is passionate about helping people to move well and discover the many benefits of strength training.

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