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Summary

  • The first
    Wicked
    movie adaptation faces marketing challenges and must compete with other holiday releases.
  • The movie’s marketing needs to emphasize it’s a musical to avoid audience confusion and hurting its box office success.
  • The second part of
    Wicked
    may lack impact due to the superiority of the songs in the first movie.

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Jon M. Chu’s two-part movie adaptation of the lauded Broadway musical Wicked faces many challenges in marketing and storytelling. Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked is undeniably one of the best stage musicals of the 21st century. It features amazingly triumphant musical numbers and tells the heartfelt and complex story of the friendship between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good (originally played on Broadway by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, respectively), as they navigate the politics of Oz before Dorothy ever arrives.

The Wicked movie stars Tony Award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Grammy-winning pop star Ariana Grande as Glinda. Wicked will likely be compared to other movies set in Oz and must contend with the holiday season box office competition. This most notably includes Moana 2 supposedly coming out the same day as Wicked. However, the real battle for Wicked lies in adapting a story celebrated for its previous iterations in two different mediums and making the characters, plot, and music just as compelling.

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10 Wicked’s CGI & Visuals

Wicked’s CGI settings and magical elements have already become divisive.

Like any fantasy property, Wicked faces the challenge of creating a whimsical and visually appealing world. Movies today often use too much CGI, creating tacky and fake-feeling settings. The first Wicked trailer is divisive primarily because of its “subpar” CGI.

Oz in particular is such a colorful world that it is easy to go overboard in its production design, with the 2013 movie Oz the Great and Powerful being a case in point. In contrast, the Wizard of Oz movie features practical effects and sets, giving it a nostalgic charm. The Wicked trailer only shows brief glimpses of the setting, but too much of what it does show could be nauseating.

9 Wicked Needs To Sell Itself As A Musical

Advertising movie musicals like Wicked can be difficult.

Cynthia Erivo in Wicked trailer

The Wicked trailer only features brief excerpts of the songs from the musical, demonstrating the problem with advertising movie musicals. Producers may find it difficult to incorporate the soundtrack into what they see as a captivating advertisement. For example, the recent Mean Girls movie was primarily advertised with Olivia Rodrigo’s original song “get him back!” rather than the Broadway songs. However, the emphasis on large dance numbers still conveyed that Mean Girls was going to be a musical.

Wicked needs to find a way to advertise that it is a musical or audiences will find the experience jarring. Even if they consciously know it is a Broadway adaptation, they will not subconsciously internalize this if the movie is not promoted that way. This, in turn, will hurt Wicked at the box office.

8 Extending Wicked’s Story

The Wicked adaptation needs expand the plot to fill up two movies.

Dorothy wearing silver shoes alongside Toto in Wicked

Wicked: Part Two

Wicked: Part Two is the sequel to the 2024 film adaptation of the popular Broadway stage musical. The film explores the origins of the Wicked Witch of the West, known as Elphaba, as the world of Oz is told from a brand new perspective.

Release Date
November 26, 2025

Director
Jon M. Chu

Cast
Ariana Grande , Cynthia Erivo , Jonathan Bailey , Ethan Slater , Marissa Bode

Wicked can also look to the original book for more ideas about what can be added to the plot. This will hopefully enrich the movies and further develop the nuanced story of Wicked.

The Wicked show is longer than the average movie — but not quite long enough for two full movies. Dorothy’s appearance in the Wicked trailer suggests that additional connections to The Wizard of Oz might add to the runtime. Wicked might also look to the original book for more ideas to add to the plot. This will hopefully enrich the movies and further develop the nuanced story of Wicked. On the other hand, it runs the risk of feeling unnecessary and making people wonder why they didn’t try to make it one movie.

7 The New Wicked Songs Living Up To The Old Ones

Stephen Schwartz is writing new songs for the Wicked movie.

Wicked:

Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz is reportedly writing two new songs for the Wicked movies, both of which are expected to appear in Wicked Part Two: For Good (via Playbill). Schwartz being a part of the project is definitely a good thing. Yet his new songs will obviously not have the same iconic status as the original Wicked soundtrack, which has been a staple of Broadway culture for decades. However, Schwartz’s talent as a composer should ensure that the new songs are just as riveting and effective in driving the story.

6 Adapting Dr. Dillamond’s Storyline

The story of Elphaba’s favorite teacher is difficult to adapt.

Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba looking concerned in the Wicked movie

A minor character in the Wicked play is Dr. Dillamond, an anthropomorphic goat who is Elphaba and Glinda’s teacher for a time. Dillamond has a complicated position in the Wicked fandom: He is called “infamous” by Just Jared and even Kristin Chenoweth dislikes him (also via Just Jared). Dillamond also poses another potential CGI fallout for the Wicked movie. However, a version of Dillamond’s character is confirmed to be appearing.

Bowen Yang, who plays Glinda’s friend Pfannee, said that Dillamond is in the movie, but the character is now female. Yang had this to say: “The goat is staying, unfortunately. […] Right now it’s a lovely puppeteer. They’re going to cast her later, but right now it’s a puppeteer named Louisa and she’s been doing amazing line reads.” There is even speculation that Idina Menzel may cameo as Dillamond.

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5 Wicked Movie Being Compared To The Wizard Of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a famous but very different movie from Wicked.

Scarecrow, Tin Man, Dorothy, and The Cowardly Lion cowering by door in The Wizard of Oz

If everyone expects to see a continuation of The Wizard of Oz when they go to see Wicked, they are going to be disappointed. The Wizard of Oz is a goofy, heartfelt movie about friendship and the meaning of home. However, it lacks the complexity, gravitas, and real-world implications of Wicked. Their soundtracks are also from different times and have completely different styles. Wicked being compared to an 85-year-old movie is an unfair criticism — one that it will hopefully escape.

4 Meshing The Tones of The Wicked Musical & Book

The Wicked musical is also very different from the book it is based on.

Wicked musical promo art with the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North

If it is accurate to say that the Wicked movie is based on the musical and the book, this presents another challenge. Maguire’s novel is more detailed and mature than the musical, which moves toward the colorful tone of The Wizard of Oz while not fully committing to it. Leading star Erivo calls the movie “both an homage to the show and the book” (via Collider). It will be interesting to see what she means by this when the show and the book have distinct tones and take different approaches to certain Wizard of Oz plot points.

3 Wicked’s Complicated Characters (Especially The Wizard)

Many of Wicked’s characters are nuanced and morally gray.

Wicked is ultimately a very complicated story about perception. No one captures this theme better than the Wizard (Jeff Goldblum), who tells Elphaba: “Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history.”The Wizard and Madame Morrible (Michelle Yeoh), the villains of the story, are viewed as noble leaders by the people of Oz.

On the other hand, Glinda knows that Elphaba is being framed as a monster by Oz’s government, but accepts this injustice because she does not want to be an outcast herself. Elphaba has noble intentions but eventually feels like she has no choice but to embrace her role as the villain in the story. The Wicked movies face a huge challenge in recreating characters for the audience to love and hate. However, they must also convey a complex discourse and not simplify the characters.

2 All The Best Songs Will Be In The First Wicked Movie

The second part of Wicked might be disappointing due to the soundtrack.

“Thank Goodness” should lean into Glinda’s regrets about her estrangement from Elphaba, while the darkly dramatic number “No Good Deed” needs to be as forceful as “Defying Gravity.”

Most of the songs that are considered the highlights of Wicked are performed in the first act of the show. This includes Glinda’s signature song “Popular” and Elphaba’s power ballad “Defying Gravity.” After this, the second movie might feel less impactful. One way to combat this is to emphasize the emotional themes of the second act’s musical numbers. “Thank Goodness” should lean into Glinda’s regrets about her estrangement from Elphaba, while the darkly dramatic number “No Good Deed” needs to be as forceful as “Defying Gravity.” Schwartz writing new songs for Wicked Part Two is also a ray of hope.

Related

Wicked’s Two-Part Release Is The Perfect Way To Fix One Of The Musical’s Weakest Characters

Wicked being adapted into a two-part film could be the ideal way to expand an important role from the original musical into a more complex character.

1 The Wicked Broadway Show Is Beloved

Like most adaptations, the Wicked movie has a lot to live up to.

Ariana Grande as Glinda leaning on Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in the Wicked movie

At the end of the day, Wicked faces the same challenge as any adaptation or remake: Living up to the original in the eyes of the fans. The fact that some people going to see the movie have only seen brief clips of the show and listened to the soundtrack further elevates the show’s status as an untouchable production. Adapting celebrated Broadway musicals is hazardous, but Chicago and Les Misérables were able to do it right. The best-case scenario is that Wicked will overcome these challenges and be the toast of next year’s Oscars, like the movie musicals before it.

Wicked Movie Poster

Wicked

Based on the famous play that stemmed from The Wizard of Oz, Wicked is a fantasy musical that sees an all-new cast take on the modern tale. The film explores the origins of the Wicked Witch of the West, a woman scorned by society due to her green skin, with even the Wizard of Oz framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. 

Director
Jon M. Chu

Release Date
November 27, 2024

Source: Playbill, Just Jared,Collider



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