As if they weren’t “popular” enough already, Tony winner Cynthia Erivo and Grammy winner Ariana Grande will soar onto the big screen when the film adaptation of Wicked arrives in theatres. The stars announced the news on their Instagram accounts, highlighting the moment they found out they were cast; check it out below.
Oscar nominee Erivo (Harriet, Broadway's The Color Purple) will play Elphaba opposite pop superstar Grande (herself a Broadway alum, having appeared in 13) as Glinda. Director Jon M. Chu confirmed the casting after the two shared the news.
The roles are a bit of a reversal for the pair, both of whom have recent ties to the musical. Grande belted Elphaba's “The Wizard and I” for the musical's 15th anniversary concert on NBC in 2018, while Erivo recently sang “Thank Goodness” (Glinda's Act 2 opener) on PBS' Wicked in Concert special earlier this year.
Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights) was announced to helm the movie in February 2021, joining the long-gestating production months after reports that Stephen Daldry (The Inheritance, Billy Elliot), who was previously attached to direct, left the project.
No word yet on a release date. Producer Marc Platt said in 2015 that “the goal” was to have the movie in theaters in 2016. That year, Universal announced a December 20, 2019, release; that date ended up going to another movie musical from the studio: Cats. Next was December 22, 2021 (now the Universal slot for Sing 2), until the project was taken off the calendar entirely in the early months of the pandemic shutdown.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, production is now expected to begin in London next summer.
Wicked, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. The Broadway production returned to the Gershwin Theatre in September after an 18-month long shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schwartz and Holzman are co-writing the screenplay for Universal, with Marc Platt, a producer on the musical, also producing the film.
Grande has recently gotten to bond with original Glinda Kristin Chenoweth the Tony and Emmy winner served as Grande’s mentor and “Battle Advisor” on the current season of The Voice. The two previously appeared together in NBC’s Hairspray Live!.