J.J. Abrams, Rob Marshall, and More in Talks to Direct WICKED


Deadline is reporting that J.J. Abrams, Rob Marshall, Ryan Murphy, and James Mangold are all being considered to direct a live action film version of Wicked. A prequel to the Wizard of Oz, Wicked tells the story of the falling out between Glenda (The Good Witch of the North) and Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West). It was originally a book (get it on Amazon here), but was also turned into a smash hit musical that has become one of the most popular Broadway shows of all time since its inception in 2004.

There are a lot of Wizard of Oz movies floating around in development right now, and all of the other movie blogs seem to want to lump this news in with a roll of their eyes as if this project is jumping on the Oz bandwagon. This is not the case - Universal made an announcement back in 2008 that they were bringing this film to the big screen, long before Oz, The Great and Powerful or any of these other projects were in development.

Many of you are probably shaking your head at the news about another musical, but I can tell you firsthand - this one is worth your time. I had a chance to see this during its tour around the country and it's pretty freaking good (this coming from someone who traditionally doesn't like musicals). Mind you, I'm speaking only to the quality of the stage adaptation, not the quality of a film version.

J.J. Abrams is clearly the name that causes the most puzzled looks in this equation, since he's never approached any material like this before. Personally, I'd rather see him tackle some more interesting original material (or even kick-start some more fantastic television) rather than take the reins on this project. Rob Marshall makes a lot of sense considering his experience with the Oscar-winning Chicago, and if I had to bet money right now I'd bet that Marshall walks away with this job in the long run. Ryan Murphy has a little bit of experience - he's the creator and music supervisor of FOX's "Glee" - but I don't think Universal will give such a huge project to someone who is as untested at the box office as Murphy is right now. And James Mangold, coming off the relative disappointment of Knight and Day, is a kind of "out of left field" choice to me; I wouldn't doubt his ability to pull it off, since the material here is so spectacular that just about anyone with a sense of style could make a great movie, but Mangold strikes me as a strange choice.

In any case, Deadline claims that more filmmakers will be meeting with the decision makers in the weeks to come, so expect more of these speculation posts until Universal locks someone in. Has anyone else seen Wicked, and do you think it would make a good film?

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