‘Wicked’ Moves Up 5 Days to Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend Release

The Broadway musical adaptation from Universal will have a weekend to build word-of-mouth ahead of the release of “Moana 2”

Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande in "Wicked" (Universal Pictures)

Universal is moving the release of “Wicked: Part 1” up by five days to November 22, putting it in theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Insiders at the studio say that the move is being done to help build word-of-mouth ahead of the critical holiday weekend, with fans of the “Wizard of Oz” prequel Broadway musical hopefully building post-release buzz that will draw in families and general audiences the following weekend and well into December.

“Wicked” will now hit theaters alongside Paramount’s “Gladiator II,” a film that is unlikely to have significant audience overlap with the musical as it is a sequel to Ridley Scott’s violent sword-and-sandals epic.

But more importantly, it gives the film distance from Disney’s “Moana 2,” which is looking more and more like it will be the sort of Thanksgiving hit that the animation studio provided in the late 2010s following the success of Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” which proved that Disney could still drum up hype for its established IP as it became the fastest animated film to gross $1 billion worldwide.

Universal is putting heavy investment into its marketing campaign for “Wicked,” which began earlier this year with the debut of the film’s first trailer during the Super Bowl. At CinemaCon this past spring, “Wicked” served as the grand finale of Universal’s presentation to movie theater owners, with director Jon M. Chu and the film’s cast taking the stage to a colorful LED light show.

The cast is led by Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo as Glinda and Elphaba, the two young witches who will grow up to become the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West. It is rounded out by Jonathan Bailey, Michelle Yeoh, Peter Dinklage, Ethan Slater, and Jeff Goldblum.


One response to “‘Wicked’ Moves Up 5 Days to Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend Release”

  1. Robert McCoy Avatar

    “Strategic” move by Universal to avoid Moana 2…because musicals and animated sequels for toddlers totally compete for the same audience.

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