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Universal Wants Stephen Daldry to Direct ‘Wicked’

Wicked, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, is one of the most popular Broadway musicals in recent memory. For whatever reason, it’s been difficult for Universal to get the film adaptation off the ground, but the studio might be taking the steps to finally make it happen.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Universal will finally take Wicked to the silver screen, with hopes that Stephen Daldry will direct. This is the first significant movement on Wicked since 2010, when J.J. Abrams (Super 8), Rob Marshall (Chicago), Ryan Murphy (television’s Glee), and James Mangold (Walk the Line) were potential candidates for the gig.

Aside from Abrams, all of those directors have some experience in directing filmed musicals, and Daldry doesn’t fit into that niche either. He’s usually one for emotionally gripping dramas like The Hours and, most recently, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but he adapted his drama Billy Elliot into a Broadway musical and that show was a success, netting Daldry a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and winning additional awards, including Best Musical.

Wicked, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, accounts for the lives of Elphaba and Galinda before they respectively became The Wicked Witch of the West and the good witch Glinda. The show — still in its first run — took three Tony Awards, including Best Musical and one for Idina Menzel’s portrayal of Elphaba. Kristin Chenoweth also earned a nomination for playing Galinda.

While it’s unlikely that either will reprise their Broadway roles for the cinematic adaptation, it’s difficult to imagine that neither will have any involvement with the film. There’s no timetable set, but if Les Misérables does well for Universal in December, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for the studio to fast-track Wicked.

On a musical-related note, Jon Favreau‘s involvement with the film adaptation of Jersey Boys, based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has also been confirmed.

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