Stephen Schwartz: ‘Defying Gravity’ Is Why ‘Wicked’ Should Be Two Movies

According to Stephen Schwartz, nothing can follow “Defying Gravity”. And for the “Wicked” songwriter, that’s one of the main reasons the movie version of his blockbuster Broadway musical has to be split into two parts.

It’s not just about the overall length, says the composer – it’s about the audience that needs a breather after one of the great Act 1 closers of all time. (Even if that breather is 12 months of moviegoers going about their daily business, versus 20 minutes to cool their heels outside a Broadway house.)

“We found it very difficult to get past ‘Defying Gravity’ without a break,” says Schwartz. “That song was written specifically to bring down a curtain, and whatever scene to follow it without a break just seemed hugely anti-climactic.”

Schwartz made the comment about “Defying Gravity” in a statement he released in “The Schwartz Scene,” a fan newsletter. He had other reasons for agreeing to the decision to split “Wicked” in two, with the films currently being released on two consecutive days in the future: December 25, 2024 and December 25, 2025.

“The truth is, we’ve been trying to make it into one movie for a while, even if it had to be one really long movie,” Schwartz said in his statement to the newsletter. “But we kept running into two problems. The first is that even as a very long single film, we had to cut or cut out things that we wanted to include that we think fans of the show and story will appreciate.” The second reason, as he explained it, came down to the showstopper’s number and the inability for what comes at the start of Act 2 to escape its gravitational pull.

“So for these two reasons,” continued Schwartz, “plus the excitement of doing something that has never been done with a musical before, we decided to make two films. Of course, when it’s all done, if it’s not on That way, we have to come up with something. But we’re confident it’s best for our story, our show, and our fans.”

In addition, Schwartz said, “What we discussed is that changes should be ‘additive’, to use (producer) Marc Platt’s term. They have to add something to the story or the characters. It can’t just be changes to do something different. I’m very confident that by the time the movie is made, if we all have the same level of input, I’ll be able to have a conversation with anyone who has a question about any of the changes made during the show and can justify why I think it’s better for the movie.”

All parties have indicated that additional material will be added to extend a 2-hour and 45-minute Broadway show — with an intermission — to two films believed to last at least an hour and a half each. Schwartz is reportedly working on at least one new song.

The Universal movies will be directed by Jon M. Chu and will have Cynthia Erivo as the evil witch who delivers “Defying Gravity”, with Ariana Grande as her blonde-privileged counterpart.

Apparently never considered: a first roadshow version of a full-length movie with a built-in intermission. This was common in the late ’50s, ’60s, and even early ’70s, when a significant number of musicals hit theaters with a break mirroring where the break spot came in their Broadway incarnations, including “My Fair Lady,” The Sound of Music”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Oklahoma!”, “South Pacific”, “Paint Your Wagon”, “Hello, Dolly!, “West Side Story”, “Camelot”, “South Pacific”, “Sweet Charity,” “Star!”, “Oliver!”, “Thorough Modern Millie” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

But Quentin Tarantino is the only major filmmaker to try a theatrical break in recent years, with “Hateful Eight,” which was limited to a very small run before going nationwide with a break-free cut in the same running time.

Chu made his own announcement about the halving when the news was revealed on April 26. He didn’t elaborate on the power of “Defying Gravity”, the most pop-u-lahr song in the score. But he wrote at the time that there was no way to “wrestle” the stage show into a single movie without actually doing damage to it. … So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas.”

The director said in his April statement that up until the decision to split “Wicked” into two films, he and the creative team had “tried to cut songs or trim characters, but those decisions were beginning to feel like fatalities.” compromises for the source material that has entertained us all for so many years.” Some diehard fans of the show were confused as to why songs or characters had to be cut for a single movie, as a straight forward rendering of the stage material would last about two and a half hours without intermission, shorter than most recent superhero movies. .

Fans of Schwartz’s songs won’t have to wait until Christmas 2024 to get them on screen: he co-wrote new tunes for “Disenchanted,” the sequel to “Enchanted,” which will be released as an exclusive Disney+ streaming on Thanksgiving Day from this year – with a song for Idina Menzel, the original singer of “Defying Gravity”, who was not given musical numbers in the first film in 2007.

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