Stephen Daldry Exits as Wicked Director for Universal Adaptation – /Film

Wicked is having a tough time taking off. Universal’s long-awaited feature film adaptation of the hit musical just lost another director with Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), who has exited the project after being attached to the film for a year.

Deadline reports that Stephen Daldry has exited Universal’s Wicked, more than a year after the Billy Elliot director was announced to be helming the film. The outlet reports that Daldry parted ways amicably with the production after the studio moved more quickly than the filmmaker was comfortable with. And with the pandemic limiting the stage space in London, which was an important element to Daldry, it would have made shooting difficult.

Universal’s screen adaptation of Holzman and Schwartz’s Tony Award-winning musical has been long in the making, with chatter about the film first emerging in 2010, and everyone from JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall among the filmmakers in talks to direct.

Universal is currently back on the search for directors, with hopes to begin production late next year — though it likely won’t meet the December 2021 date the studio set last year. Songwriter Stephen Schwartz and book writer Winnie Holzman teamed on the script and Marc Platt, who produces the stage musical with David Stone, is lead producer on the film. Deadline suggests that Spielberg could be the next choice, after making his first foray into musicals with West Side Story, as the filmmaker is looking for a new directing vehicle. My only hope is that Universal keeps Tom Hooper from getting is paws on Wicked, especially after the commercial and critical bombing of his disastrous adaptation of Cats.

The Wizard of Oz prequel is based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and focuses on the early relationship between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, a green-skinned beauty before she ended up a flying hag on a broomstick. Wicked began as a movie development project with Platt and Universal, before they changed course and took it to the stage first. It was an immediate sensation, quickly recouping its $14 million capitalization in 2004 and becoming one of the biggest grossing tuners of all time, with the Broadway show and all the touring companies.

But the renewed movie talks have been going on for a while, with Universal (somewhat overconfidently) setting a 2019 release date all the way back in 2016. It will likely be even longer until we see the Wicked movie this way come.

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