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Wicked the Movie: Based on the Book or the Musical? Or Both?

There's exciting news swirling around lately that the Broadway musical Wicked will definitely be made into a movie. According to Variety, Universal Pictures (the same studio behind Mamma Mia!) is taking "formative steps" to get Wicked into movie theaters soon.

Like so many others, I have a history with the Broadway show that started with enjoying the book by Gregory Maguire that inspired the stage show. I thought his satirical vision of Oz as a dark land rife with political issues and tensions was a cool twist on an old tale we all know.

The book also takes a closer look at Elphaba (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West), depicting her as an insecure girl who comes of age as an outsider because of the way she looks (it's seriously not easy being green). This is the part of Maguire's work that the musical is focused on.

I know that the musical is beloved by many, but long before there were any songs, I totally envisioned a Tim Burton-esque adaptation of the book that was at once fantastical and dark. So what are you hoping for? Should they make a straight adaptation of the musical, or should they draw a little more from the book when making the film version? Or maybe there's something in the middle, like Burton's Sweeney Todd.


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HolaSoyMilk HolaSoyMilk 5 years
I think a hybrid of the book and the musical would be ideal,preserving everything in regards to plot from the novel and and slipping in songs from the musical where they would fit, and maybe writing some new ones to fill the gaps. I think the movie will be a tremendous opportunity to tell the full story, much of which was sadly skipped over in the musical adaptation. If you look at it from a producer's point of view (as I do now with everything, now that I'm in the process of writing and producing a rather large production) it's easy to see why the musical changed the story so drastically; firstly, it would be a huge pain in the ass managing small children for the scenes depicting Elphaba's childhood; could you imagine getting a six or seven year old to sit still for full body make-up? If you could do it, IO would bow and kiss your feet. Secondly; Oh, my goodness, could you imagine the cast size? You'd need maunts, townspeople, and Winkies, oh my! Thirdly, most of the book would have been damn near impossible to portray on something as limiting as stage, for example; any scene where anyone travels, which is a good deal of the book, or landscapes are important. Not to mention pretty much any time someone has to move more than twenty feet, which I'll tell right now a damn lot o the time. Fourthly, most emotional scenes would carry more impact if cinematic editing was involved; Fiyero's murder would feel more abrupt, the poetry soiree, etc. As for the tone and ambiance of the film, I think a bright, enchanting setting would be far more suitable. When I picture Shiz, for example, I imagine sunlit courtyards, whitewashed stone buildings and trees with the sun behind their leaves. Maguire's take on Oz reflects real life; your environment doesn't always betray what's really going on, and a sunny surface would highlight the satirical nature of Maguire's Oz. An outright inherently dark setting, like in Burton's Sweeney Todd, which immediately tells the viewer something is wrong would completely destroy Maguire's revisionist reboot of the story of the Witches of Oz, which he tied together with the popular view of the Wizard and Oz. The best films make even the places with the most terrible things present capture our hearts the moment we set foot in them. Middle Earth in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and the hidden wizarding world depicted in Harry Potter both have awful, unspeakable things going on inside them, yet people are drawn to them, and it is easy to insert yourself into the story. I have a strong interest in film, but I find it's the ones that offer an expansive world, rather than a very tight, self-contained story that are easiest to love. For example, Saoirse Roman's recent movie Hanna was an excellent film and I enjoyed it very much. The plot was more original than most and everything regarding the production was phenomenal. Around the same time, X-Men: First Class was released, and I felt the two movies were equally matched in most aspects, except for one very important thing; accessibility. Hanna was a very contained story; that is, there wasn't much surrounding it, other than a shady government organization we were given very little information about. X-Men, however, despite having not many more characters, and a very contained storyline, it is far easier to imagine yourself into it; you could be some mutant, frightened and alone, a soldier in the navy, or a member of the Hellfire Club. I've gotten a little bit off topic here, but my point is, the darker a movie's ambiance, the less accessible it becomes. A more enchanting setting, no matter what terrible things the world contains, will draw people in and capture them. I think that the best movie should show you a world that has terrible things wrong with it, but make you want to be a part pf it at the same time. No matter what way they go with the film, someone is going to be disappointed, but a film adaptation will be wasted if it only becomes the musical on film. It's an opportunity to expand, and to add things; a little sex, a little murder, and whole lot more symbolism, subtext and political significance.
korrir korrir 8 years
It really depends on where they wanted to take the franchise. If they want to continue on with Maguire's books, then they would need to base the movie on the book and maybe add in some of the songs and the quirkness. The musical leaves out some of the stuff that gets carried over to the next book (Son of a Witch) and like I said, if they wanted to make a movie based on each book, then they would have to rely heavily on the first book instead of the musical.
Aeons Aeons 9 years
In my opinion, the musical just made a mess of the book. Yeah, the songs are fun and super happy, but you completely lose the book's message. Plus, if they ever make a sequel (Son of a Witch), then they are screwed. I'd rather see it as a dark fairytale than a quirky one.
mamaslav mamaslav 9 years
I've seen the musical two times and am addicted to the music! There is no way to describe what seeing and hearing DEFYING GRAVITY is like when you see it in person from the third row center! A musical would be amazing, especially if they keep it along the plot of the musical (including the amazing costumes), and then could make it even better with special effects. Don't ruin it by using Tim Burton. He has his place, but not with this charming story. I've read the book, and like many others, thought it was terrible after I'd seen the musical. Idina Menzel and Kristen Cheneworth would be great in the roles. Can't wait to see this musical movie!
catj38 catj38 9 years
I saw the musical and LOVED it! I read the book to see if it would provide more detail about the characters and was stunned at how different they are. I really enjoyed the book too but really, only the names were the same, all else was changed. I wonder that Gregory Maguire could be happy with the musical since it completely changed the story that he originally envisioned. Having said that, I think the movie should be made from the musical rather than the novel - it will have greater audience appeal. Hollywood loves a happy ending.
ovenmitt ovenmitt 9 years
i was extremely disappointed with the musical. sweeney todd (on stage) is an excellent example of a somber musical that is successful and poignant. there was strong social commentary in maguire's book, and his ideas were not brought to maturity in the musical. i think kristin chenoweth and idina menzel created roles worthy of carrying a successful broadway musical, but were not given the opportunity to carry the weight of the characters gregory maguire wrote. and really, i'm not sure they could have if that's the task they were given. and i say this as a fan of each of them. i would prefer a movie of the book, with the violence, and the racism, and the hate, and the demons that elphie carries with her, witnessing a transformation into the wicked witch that doesn't end with a kitchy semi happy ending.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 9 years
I hope it would be a little bit of both, the musical and the book were both good but the book was too dark sometimes. Either way, I am so excited to see Wicked as a movie! I love this musical and I have been hoping that they would adapt it into a film. I wonder who will play Galinda and Elphaba. Hmmm...
clareberrys clareberrys 9 years
I could not get into the book at all.....I got more than 3/4 of the way through thinking it would get better and it just didn' I gave up on it. I still need to see the musical though. I'd see the movie too
cutesy11 cutesy11 9 years
i really really hope idina and kristen are in it! how amazing would that be
Isista Isista 9 years
I think they should do both. I would love seeing a musical in movie form. But I think that a movie based on the book would be good as well, although I honestly think that the fan base would be smaller. There are a lot of themes and motifs in the book that I personally don't think would translate well to most audiences.
laurel9894 laurel9894 9 years
tim burton will kill it. booo to tim b. this is my favorite musical. someone should do it like they did 'the wiz' keep it the same, but make it so much bigger on film.
rivrchild rivrchild 9 years
I've never seen the musical, but I find it odd that they can take a book that is rather sombre and dark and make it into something that people call "cute." I loved the book for the contrast that it had with the Wizard of Oz, the political undertones and parallels to our own world etc. I would like to see this as a serious film, closer to the book. I don't know about Tim Burton directing, I'd much rather have someone like Guillermo del Toro. He blended real-adult world and child-like fantasy so well in Pan's Labyrinth, I think his style would suit the book perfectly, without being too campy and silly.
raieven raieven 9 years
book - i can't stand musical movies.
Zivanod Zivanod 9 years
The musical is enjoyable and a pleasure to see. The book is so much darker and was so hard to get into. I do hope the movie is just an adaption of the musical. It would be more mainstream that way anyway and would draw in larger crowds.
girlnone girlnone 9 years
I loved the musical when I saw it on Broadway, but I've never read the book. Sure, it's kind of campy, but the music is great. It would be fantastic to see Idinia and Kristen reprise their roles, though I doubt that will happen. All I ask is that they cast people who can actually sing, even if they aren't the biggest stars in Hollywood.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
The musical is so cute. The book... not so much. Kind of weird and I liked the way the musical explained things better.
Cherylish Cherylish 9 years
Hands down it should be based on the musical! That's what made it famous and that's what people will be expecting. Look what happened when they turned Les Mis into a movie based on the book--it totally sucked! While Phantom of the Opera was great! Maybe they could borrow a few things from the book to enhance the movie--I don't know, I hated the writing style of the book and couldn't get through it--but overall I think they should stick to the musical.
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