It seems to be the day for Oz-centric news. According to Deadline, director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is in the running to direct the big-screen version of the hit Broadway musical, Wicked. Based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked is a sort-of prequel to The Wizard of Oz about the unlikely friendship between the two witches of Oz in the years before Dorothy crash-landed in Munchkinland.
Years ago, Universal had acquired the movie rights to Maguire's original novel, but those plans changed when composer Stephen Schwartz managed to persuade producer Marc Platt to let him turn Wicked into a musical instead. That turned out to be a very smart move: since opening on Broadway in 2003, Wicked has been playing to sold-out houses not only in New York, but also on tour and overseas. It won three Tony Awards, a Grammy, it's been referenced on Glee so many times it should just count as advertising, and recently there was even a mini-version of the show playing at the Universal theme park in Japan.
So we're inevitably going to be getting a movie version, which is fine, since it is a really good musical. I somehow managed to win the lottery for $25 tickets before a matinee on Broadway back in 2004, so I got to see it in the front row with the original cast, which was pretty awesome. The music is great, and the story is so insanely clever that I assure you that you'll never be able to watch The Wizard of Oz quite the same way ever again...in a good way.
Daldry is no stranger to musicals - he directed the stage musical versions of Billy Elliot in London and on Broadway, winning a Tony for the Broadway production (he also directed the original film, which was not a musical). Billy Elliot, which is one of my favorite movies, turned out to be a great musical. I saw it in London in 2008 and liked it so much that I went back and saw it again the next night. So I think Daldry's a good choice for this, should it actually happen. Hopefully it will.