Universal has settled on a new 2021 release date for its Wicked adaptation. Back in 1995, Gregory Maguire helped to establish the modern trend of revisionist fairy tales with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a novel that re-told The Wizard of Oz (and the events leading up to it) from the perspective of its antagonist, known in this version as Elphaba. The book was generally well-received for the its social commentary and the way it deconstructs the original Wizard of Oz story to show how it might've unfairly vilified Elphaba because of her gender and appearance, among other things.
Wicked has since gone to become an extremely popular and award-winning Broadway stage musical, starting with its original run in 2003. A film adaptation of the show has been in the works at Universal for several years now and was previously scheduled to arrive in late 2019. Unfortunately, the movie was later delayed (for unspecified reasons) and its date was given to Tom Hooper's Cats movie musical instead. Wicked fanatics need not fear though, for the film has since gotten a replacement date two years from now.
Universal announced today that Wicked will now hit theaters on December 22, 2021. Currently, the only other movies scheduled to open on that date are an untitled Warner Bros. Animation Event Film and an untitled Disney live-acton fairy tale.
Broadway stage musicals are notoriously slow to make the jump to the big screen, largely because the producers behind them want to avoid releasing a film when the original show is still at the height of its popularity onstage. The Wicked musical was all the rage in the 2000s and became the third Broadway show to gross north of $1 billion in total revenue in 2016 (after The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King). That's also why the film adaptation didn't really start moving down the pipeline until five years ago, and has been pushed back further and further ever since. Thankfully, by the look of things, this 2021 date will be the only that finally sticks.
Stephen Daldry - who worked on both Billy Elliot the film and stage musical - was attached to direct the Wicked movie a few years back, based on a script by Winnie Holzman (who also wrote the stage show). Daldry hasn't become attached to any other major projects of late either, which presumably means he's still calling the shots on Wicked and will start production sometime next year. The original stage musical only just celebrated its anniversary back in October with the special A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway, as hosted by original leads Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. All in all, it's an eventful time in the wide world of Wicked right now.
Source: Universal Pictures