Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hunting for a Wicked Director

It has been almost two years since I last reported about "Wicked." Yes, I am talking about the Broadway musical that has been a huge hit for years now. Universal won out the option to make a feature length film, but since then the property has not had much advances. That all changes with the current news. Universal is currently meeting with directors to get the Wizard of Oz prequel in front of cameras soon. Take a look at the full report after the jump...

Deadline reports that Universal has met with 4 different directors. The studio along with Wicked's musical producer Marc Platt, author Winnie Holzman and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have met with none other than JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall. A couple of these names are immediately intriguing, like JJ Abrams, while others seem more of a told you so.

Let's start with name that sound too good to be true, JJ Abrams. There is no way Abrams is going to take on "Wicked" right now. Why? Because Abrams already has his plate too full with a ton of other projects like "Super 8" and 'Star Trek 2.' Perhaps Abrams would be on as a producer to shepherd the film, but that seems just as unlikely. Why have Abrams produce other than to just simply attach his name to a project that frankly doesn't need it. Wicked is already huge, it has a built in audience just like Harry Potter or Twilight and adding Abrams to the bill isn't going to make that big of a difference.

The main thing to worry about with a property like "Wicked" is to keep it fresh and fairly accurate to the Broadway musical. Which is why the names Rob Marshall and Ryan Murphy seem more of a told you so. Marshall who had a lot of acclaim after Chicago has seen some of that dwindle with his efforts on last year's Nine, but Universal probably felt it necessary to meet with him. Marshall could likely begin "Wicked" after finishing up "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" but that may even be longer than Universal wants to wait.

Deadline implies that Universal wants to move quickly on the Wizard of Oz prequel before too many other studios have their own Oz films out. Both Disney and Warner Brothers currently have Oz properties in development. If Universal intends to strike now Ryan Murphy could very well be their man. Murphy of course is executive producer, director and writer for television's Nip/Tuck and Glee. He seems like he could step in quickly and get the property on the right track. Murphy has "Eat Pray Love" releasing later this year, which if the buzz is right, should get him quite a bit more attention.

James Mangold is the other director mentioned that could also move quickly into production on "Wicked." Mangold is coming off moderate success with "Knight and Day" starring Tom Cruise, but his work on Walk the Line seemed strong enough for Universal to meet with him.

Stay tuned for more on "Wicked" as it develops, because I am sure to be following. Consider me intrigued to see how Universal moves forward and who will they end up casting. I'd really like to see them bring back the original cast of Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, but for now were just gonna have to wait and see.

Source: Deadline