Wicked Director Reveals The Steven Spielberg Epic That Influenced Musical Adaptation

By Jason Collins | Published

Jon M. Chu, the director of the upcoming musical fantasy Wicked, recently shared that he was inspired by Steven Spielberg’s Hook, a 1991 fantasy adventure film starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts. Chu’s film is based on the blockbuster Broadway musical that turns the story of The Wizard Of Oz on its head, while Hook follows the adventures of a grown-up Peter Pan. So what do the two even have in common?

Inspired By Hook

robin williams hook dustin hoffman

During one of his interviews regarding Wicked’s realistic sets and the choice not to rely heavily on CGI environments, Chu also shared that the choice was inspired by the practical effects and environments Spielberg used while filming Hook. He mentioned one particular instance in which Spielberg was, behind the scenes, on a dock with a giant pirate ship. “This is my one opportunity to do this, I want to do that,” said Chu, referring to Spielberg’s approach.

A New Take On The Wizard Of Oz

That’s why the yellow brick road in Wicked has actual mud on it and a real train that brings Glinda and Elphaba to Emerald City—the capital city of the fictional Land of Oz. For those who aren’t familiar with the upcoming release, Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz, starring Cynthia Erivo of Harriet and Broadway’s The Color Purple as Elphaba. The character is a young woman who’s often misunderstood due to her unusual green skin—though we must admit that her spectacles’ design is rather amazing and in theme with the film.

A Magical Origin Story

Wicked also stars a multi-platinum artist, Ariana Grande, as Glinda, who later becomes Glinda the Good. The two young women meet at Shiz University in the Land of Oz and become friends, but that friendship later reaches a crossroads following the encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Yes, as you might’ve guessed by now, Elphaba later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, the main villain in the classic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, however, she didn’t have green skin until Margaret Hamilton’s characterization introduced it.

Always Room For More Jeff Goldblum

Apart from Erivo and Grande, Wicked also starts Keala Settle as Miss Coddle, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Bronwyn James as ShenShen, Jeff Goldblum as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Bowen Yang as Pfannee, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero Tigelaar, Marissa Bode as Nessarose Thropp, and Ethan Slater as Boq. The movie was initially announced in 2012 by Universal Pictures, with Marc Platt as the producer, but it suffered a painfully long development and multiple delays.

A Story In Two Parts

Wicked actually began its life as a Broadway musical, an adaptation of Gregory Macguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which was nominated for ten Tony Awards. It ended up winning three Tony Awards and is currently the 4th longest-running Broadway show in history. The movie entered active development in 2012, with 2016 as a possible release date. In 2016, however, Universal Pictures announced that the film had been postponed to a 2019 release date.

The production resumed once the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and in 2022, Chu announced that the adaptation would be filmed in two parts: the upcoming Wicked—scheduled for a November 27, 2024, release date—and Wicked: Part Two, scheduled for 2025.