Universal has finally set a release date for a film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, Wicked.Set for a December 20, 2019 release, Stephen Daldry is set to direct. Composer Stephen Schwartz and musical book (or libretto) writer Winnie Holzman, who worked on the stage musical, are also attached to help with the transition from stage to screen.

A tale of two witches

The story is a revisionist take on “The Wizard of Oz,” told from the perspectives of the Wicked Witch of the West, here re-imagined as “Elphaba,” and Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and exploring a possible past friendship between the two, in addition to the back-stories of some of the other famous Oz characters.

Adapted by the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire, the storyline somewhat borrows more from the classic MGM film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” than L. Frank Baum’s original books. For example, Glinda and the unnamed Good Witch of the North are separate characters entirely in the original story, with Glinda being the Good Witch of the South.

In many ways, the Maguire story is often credited with popularizing the revisionist genre, which involves re-telling a story from the perspective of another character, in film and literature.

Many recent Disney films, both live-action and animated, are often credited with being influenced by Wicked, such as Maleficent or Frozen, the latter of whom starred Idina Menzel, who originated the role of Elphaba on stage; ironically enough the upcoming Universal film is going to have competition from Disney, as another "yet-to-be-revealed live-action fairy-tale movie" from the company is said to have a similar release date.

A sign of the times

In spite of the musical's popularity, a film adaptation has been in development hell for years. Reportedly, however, a film would still likely be quite lucrative as the stage-show alone is believed to be more successful than Universal’s individual films, possibly being worth “over $3 billion,” according to its producer Marc Platt.

In addition to its financial success, the original show won three out of ten nominations from the Tony Awards, and is also believed to be the 10th longest-running Broadway show after thirteen years.

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