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‘Wicked’ Dazzles CinemaCon with First Footage of Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo in Character


Something Bad happened Wednesday in Las Vegas.

During Universal Pictures’ presentation at CinemaCon, the studio offered a glimpse into the highly anticipated two-part musical Bad by director Jon M. Chu and starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo. It was met with applause from theater owners, who were treated to flying monkeys and an immersive Emerald City.

Bad is such a proud part of our legacy,” said Universal film executive Donna Langley, who noted that the musical has just become the fourth longest-running in Broadway history. “They create an entire world that I know will dazzle your screens.”

The images of Bad was a rough cut, as the films are still in production. It included a behind the scenes look at Erivo flying on a broom and some of the craftsmanship that goes into the project.

“I knew what this movie could be. How does it feel to be in Oz? Sitting in the mud? Feel it in your fingertips,” Chu asked on a sizzle reel, noting that the project will do things that can’t be done on the Broadway stage.

Chu added that the team planted real flowers to cover Oz – instead of using CG, because he wanted Oz to feel like a real place.

He also said there was an extensive casting search before finding the leads and that both women have palpable chemistry. The footage features much of the pair together, with Erivo’s Elphaba in her signature green skin.

Earlier, during a general Universal sizzle reel, Chu appeared on set supported by monitors showing the words Bad with green lettering. As Chu spoke, images played of the backs of Grande’s Glinda and Erivo’s Elphaba as they walked hand in hand down a long corridor. Chu spoke about the power of cinema and how it can change you “for good”, borrowing the title of the beloved song “For Good” from the smash Broadway musical.

There have been many Bad headlines lately. The first official look at Erivo’s Elphaba and Grande’s Glinda dropped on social media on April 16, as seen below. The dark images inspired some critical reactions online, with Chu responding to multiple Twitter users slamming the images as too dark. “Don’t worry, color is in my DNA. This is just the first plague. Plenty of time to show more…stay tuned,” refuted the filmmaker who made good on that promise in Vegas to theater owners and press.

Days after those photos were posted, paparazzi images surfaced from the UK set, confirming the Technical color backdrop and features Grande singing in all her Glinda glory while wearing a bright pink dress and sparkling tiara. Rewinding to a month ago on March 14, Universal announced that it would push the release of the first episode to November 27, 2024 – the eve of Thanksgiving – instead of December 25, 2024. The second and final installment is due to the following holiday period in 2025.

Grande and Erivo star alongside Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey as love interest Fiyero, Jeff Goldblum as the wizard, Keala Settle as Miss Coddle, Ethan Slater as Boq, Marissa Bode as Nessarose, Bowen Yang as Pfannee, Bronwyn James as ShenShen, and Adam James as Glinda’s father.

Universal’s film adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical ⁠ (both are based on the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire) has worked for many years with veteran film and stage producer Marc Platt who produces alongside David Stone.

The two helmed the original Broadway production, which debuted on the Great White Way 20 years ago on October 8, 2003. It became a certified cultural phenomenon launching national and international productions and has become the No. 2 most successful Broadway show of all time after that The lionking.

CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theater Owners, will be held April 24-27 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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