EXCLUSIVE: After adapting Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In the Heights for Warner Bros, Jon M. Chu has his sights set on adapting one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Sources tell Deadline that Chu will direct Universal’s Wicked, the feature-film adaptation of the record-breaking musical phenomenon that is in its 17th smash-hit year on Broadway.
The three-time Tony Award-winning stage musical was adapted from Gregory Maguire’s bestselling novel by book writer Winnie Holzman and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who are also collaborating on the screenplay adaptation. Marc Platt will produce for his Universal-based Marc Platt Productions. Wicked is produced on Broadway by Universal Stage Productions, Platt, the Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.
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Timing is everything and in this situation it worked out nicely for both parties. Last fall, Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry left the project after the studio was looking to move fast on the long-awaited adaptation. Around the same time, Chu had to part ways with Disney+’s new Willow series he was planning to direct due to issues with Covid-19 that kept pushing production. On top of that, Chu is expecting a baby. With Chu’s schedule open and Wicked looking for a director, the timing worked out for both sides.
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With a national tour and multiple international productions, the stage musical has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide, making it one of the most successful theatrical ventures of all time. The winner of over 100 international awards including Grammys and three Tony Awards, Wicked has been performed in over 100 cities in 16 countries around the world (U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, and China) and has been translated into six languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Korean and Portuguese.
Senior EVP Production Erik Baiers and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of Universal .
Besides adapting In the Heights, which will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max later this year, Chu directed the box office smash Crazy Rich Asians for Warner Bros. Chu is repped by UTA, Artists First Inc and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher, LLP.
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