By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter
The upcoming film adaptation of the blockbuster musical Wicked, starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, is to be split into two movies.
The film’s director Jon M Chu announced the news in a letter shared to Instagram explaining that they had made the decision to prevent making “fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years”.
He said the two films will allow them to bring “even more depth and surprise” to the classic tale, with the big screen debut to be across successive Christmas holidays beginning December 2024.
Chu, the filmmaker known for 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians and 2021’s In The Heights, wrote in the statement: “Thank you for all the support these past several months in anticipation of the Wicked movie.
“We have so many exciting things to share but for now I’m giving you one… or two, rather.
“Here’s what happened: as we prepared this production over the last year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of Wicked into a single film without doing some real damage to it.
“As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions began to feel like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years.”
He continued: “So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas and make not just one Wicked movie but TWO!!!!
“With more space, we can tell the story of Wicked as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters.”
The filmmaker added that Grande, Erivo and himself pledged to create “nothing less than an experience that honours its foundation for all the fans who’ve waited for this movie”.
Chart-topping pop star Grande, 28, who will play Glinda, also shared the statement to her Instagram alongside her character’s sheet music, writing: “some thrillifying news :)”
Oscar-nominated British actress Erivo, 35, who will appear as Elphaba, did the same and added a string of witch and wand emojis.
Wicked debuted on Broadway in October 2003 with Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Joel Grey as the original cast members playing Elphaba, Glinda and the Wizard, respectively.
The show tells the backstory of The Wizard Of Oz and what happened before Dorothy arrived in the enchanted world.
It launched in the London West End in 2006 and is playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.