Jon M. Chu to Direct ‘Wicked’ Musical for Universal
Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “In the Heights,” is taking on the land of Oz. He has inherited filmmaking duties from Stephen Daldry on “Wicked,” Universal’s big-screen adaptation of the hit musical.
Daldry departed the project, which has been in the works for over a decade, last October due to scheduling conflicts. It’s still unclear who will star in the film, or when it will be released. “Wicked” was taken off Universal’s film schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Chu shared his excitement on social media, writing, “Most of my life I have felt out of place, weird and different. I hid behind my camera because people liked to be filmed and I could disappear.”
“But when I saw Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s ‘Wicked’ over 15 years ago as it was being workshopped in San Francisco I couldn’t unsee it,” he said on Twitter. “So to think that I have been invited to bring this timeless story to the biggest screens all around the world for people to experience with their family, best friends and total strangers… of all walks of life, ages, shapes and colors is like I’ve been invited to Oz by the Wizard himself.”
A prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked” tells the story of everything that happened before Dorothy dropped down in Oz. In its original run on Broadway, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth portrayed best friends-turned-mortal enemies — Elphaba (the eventual Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch). Prior to prolonged theater closures, “Wicked” had been one of the longest-running shows on the Great White Way.
Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music and lyrics to the Broadway show, is adapting the screenplay with Winnie Holzman. Marc Platt, a producer on the musical, is also producing the film. Along with classics like “Defying Gravity” and “Popular,” the movie version is expected to feature at least two new songs.
Chu feels like a natural fit, having recently directed “In the Heights,” the feature film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical. That movie, from Warner Bros., is slated to premiere in theaters and on HBO Max in June. Chu also successfully adapted the hit romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Chu is represented by UTA, Artists First Inc and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher, LLP.