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‘Wicked’ Adaptation Needs a Director. Will J.J. Abrams Step Up?

Posted by Jon Wiener on July 12, 2010

The team behind the hit musical Wicked are itching to make a screen adaptation of the book that later became a Tony Award winning sensation.  And, let’s be honest, J.J. Abrams needs more of our money.  Abrams has been approached by the play’s power team (Marc Platt, Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz) to possibly direct the screen version, which will be a guaranteed hit.

James Mangold (Walk the Line, Knight and Day), Ryan Murphy (Running with Scissors, Glee) and Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) have also been in talks with Universal to direct.  Marshall seems like the logical decision, given his extensive musical background in film, but Abrams would definitely be an interesting choice, given the element of fantasy, which he has nearly perfected.  What excites me about Abrams is the new audience that his inclusion will bring to the genre.

I’m not much of a musical fan, but I definitely would go see Wicked if Abrams was behind the wheel.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Noble July 12, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Oh, Sweet Jeebus, no.

The book, by Gregory Maguire, is a fun, revisionist read. It’s surprisingly political and stays true to L Frank Baum’s source material. The musical based on ‘Wicked’, however, is just terrible. I saw the big-budget touring version in Chicago, circa 2005. And when I say it’s terrible, know that this is coming from a heterosexual guy who happily spent the night of his 23rd birthday in third row center, watching Bob Goulet’s return as Don Quixote in the revival of ‘Man of La Mancha.’

But ‘Wicked’ the musical is awful. Winnie Holzman took each of the characters that died and “tied” them to later characters in the narrative. So Character A dies, and comes back later as Character D, Character B dies and comes back later as Character E, Character C dies and comes back as Character F. This is entirely against the frame of the book, where later characters are *NOT* previously-thought-dead characters from the first few chapters.

Oh, and her’s a spoiler: In the book ‘Wicked’, she dies (just like all other versions of ‘the Wizard of Oz’.) In the musical, she fakes her death and lives! Bah!

Jon Wiener July 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I have not read the book. But, from what I understand, the musical is a “loose adaptation”. Perhaps the screen version will revert to some of the book’s ideas. On the other hand, maybe it’ll be even further from the original.

I guess when it all comes down to it, Universal is looking to make some money…and Wiked is a money-maker.

Facebook User July 13, 2010 at 7:31 am

I like the choice of Ryan Murphy as well as JJ Abrams, but I think Joss Whedon would be the perfect choice here. He’s got musical experience (Dr. Horrible, Glee), supernatural experience (Buffy), and just plain awesomeness experience. I think he’d also bring in a wider audience. You’d already have all the kids, teenage girls, and musical theater people, but with Joss Whedon you add a whole demographic that might not be as interested otherwise. Plus bonus points if he can find a role for NPH. Besides, Abrams is going to be tied up with Star Trek 2, so while he may be offered the job, I don’t think he’ll take it.

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