Bad news from Oz – Wicked director Stephen Daldry has departed the upcoming movie adaptation of Wicked, Deadline (opens in new tab) reports.
Wicked is based on the massively popular Broadway musical of the same name, which is itself an adaptation of the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – inspired by L. Frank Baum’s iconic novel, The Wizard of Oz. It's basically an origins story for Wicked Witch of the West, back when she was still a relatively normal young woman named Elphaba who attended school with Glinda the Good Witch.
Daldry reportedly left on good terms and stepped away because Universal wanted a faster timeline than Daldry would have liked. Availability issues with stage space also meant the film couldn’t be shot in London, and Daldry apparently considered this location important. Now, according to Deadline, Universal is searching for another director and wants production on the film to begin towards the end of 2021.
Musical adaptations can be incredibly hit and miss – for example, compare Les Misérables with Cats, both directed by Tom Hooper – but considering who’s already on board the Wicked project, we can be cautiously optimistic. Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music for the stage musical, co-wrote the script with Winnie Holzman – who wrote the musical’s book. The casting will likely be make or break for this project, but there’s no news on that front yet.
The Wicked movie has been in development for more than 10 years, and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly hasn’t helped get the film out any faster. Wicked’s last release date was December 2021, until the pandemic caused Universal to shuffle their release slate around. This left Wicked undated completely, so it seems Elphaba’s broomstick will be grounded for a while longer yet.