'Wicked' Movie Will Be Directed By 'In The Heights' Helmer Jon M. Chu

Wicked, the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, has found a new director: Jon M. Chu. Universal has been trying to get a Wicked movie made for over a decade now, and at one point, the plan was to release the movie in 2019 with Billy Elliot filmmaker Stephen Daldry at the helm. But Universal pulled the movie from its 2019 release date, and Daldry eventually left the project. Now, Crazy Rich Asians director Chu, who also directed the upcoming musical In the Heights, has stepped in.

Deadline is reporting the news that Jon M. Chu will direct the Wicked movie. Chu directed the upcoming adaptation of In the Heights, so it's interesting that he's ready to jump right into another Broadway adaptation. The filmmaker was previously attached to direct the pilot for the Disney+ Willow series, but left the project due to personal reasons.

Before Chu came aboard Wicked, Stephen Daldry was attached to direct. Universal first announced a Wicked movie in 2004, but the movie failed to materialize. Daldry became attached in 2012, and remained on board until 2020, when he departed due to scheduling issues. During the time period between 2012 and 2020, Universal had announced that the Wicked movie would arrive on December 20, 2019. However, Universal eventually pulled Wicked from that date and replaced it with another musical adaptation – Cats, the now-infamous movie full of terrifying digital fur technology. A December 22, 2021 release was later announced for Wicked, but it's highly unlikely that'll stick since we're now into 2021 and Wicked hasn't shot a single frame.

Wicked is based on Gregory Maguire's novel of the same name, and is also a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz. The story follows "two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's private fall from grace."

The Broadway production launched in 2003 and became a huge hit. In 2019, it surpassed Les Misérables to become Broadway's fifth-longest running show. The initial Broadway run featured Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and one has to wonder if the film will bring those two performers back to reprise their roles – or if Universal wants to bring in some bigger star power. The stage version featured a book by Winnie Holzman and music and lyrics from Stephen Schwartz, and both Holzman and Schwartz are collaborating on the screenplay adaptation as well.