‘Wicked Part 2’ Flies Away From ‘Avatar 3,’ Shifts Release Date to Thanksgiving

Universal’s Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande–led musical won’t have to compete for Imax or Dolby screens

Wicked Cynthia Erivo Ariana Grande
Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande (Credit: Universal/Dave Meyers)

“Wicked Part Two” has been moved up a month, with the second and final chapter of Jon. M Chu’s stage adaptation opening not over Christmas Day 2025 but instead Thanksgiving weekend 2025. Starring Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Glinda, Universal’s musical fantasy will drop on Nov. 26, 2025.

Why the date change? Well, would you want to open against “Avatar 3″ if you didn’t have to? 

This is the first bit of musical chairs to come after the Walt Disney Company announced a slew of new dates last week, including moving “Avatar 3” back a year to December 2025, moving the next two “Avengers” films each back a year to May 2026 and 2027 and slotting two “Star Wars” films for May 2026 and December 2026. Most of the dates were far enough into the future to not have named-and-dated titles impacted.  

There’s a case to be made that “Wicked Part Two” would have flourished alongside James Cameron’s third Pandora actioner, just as “Sing” rocked hard alongside “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in 2016 and “The Greatest Showman” (and “Pitch Perfect 2”) flourished alongside both “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” in 2017. Once upon a time, back when “Wicked” was just a single movie, Universal had slated it for December 2021 against “Avatar 3.”

However, with the first “Wicked” opening on Thanksgiving weekend in 2024 and the November 2025 schedule thus far barren, Universal opted to be the biggest fish in a thus-far empty pond.  

The thinking is arguably two-fold. First, there still hasn’t been that much testing of a pre-COVID level tentpole-after-tentpole scheduling, with March 2022 seeing strong results from “Creed 3,” “John Wick: Chapter 4” and “Scream VI” even while “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” both stumbled. Likewise, while one might blame the movies themselves, this summer has seen one MCU smash (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”) and one animated superhero hit (“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”) alongside a slew of underwhelming franchise titles that have stumbled domestically (“Fast X”), overseas (“The Little Mermaid”) or globally (“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “The Flash,” “Elemental”).  

Second, being first to plant the flag on Thanksgiving weekend 2025 means a much easier time of getting Imax, Dolby and related PLF real estate, since being the “other” big Christmas 2025 movie alongside “Avatar 3” would have made that all but impossible. As post-COVID audiences prioritize premium auditoriums, the push-pull between your preferred release date and getting your preferred allotment of PLF screens will become a key factor in scheduling.

Both parts of “Wicked” will be directed by Jon M. Chu from a screenplay by Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz. They will be a two-part film adaptation of their stage musical of the same name, which was created by Holzman and Schwartz. It is based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”  

Along with Erivo and Grande, the films will star Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Bailey, Ethan Slater, Marissa Bode, Jeff Goldblum, Bowen Yang, Bronwyn James and Keala Settle. It is produced by Marc Platt and David Stone with David Nicksay, Stephen Schwartz and Jared LeBoff serving as executive producers.