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Frank Beddor
Jared Hoffman
March 6, 2024

Wicked Trailers Breakdown: Why Hollywood Is Hiding Musicals

The Super Bowl happened this month and everyone was really chill about it and no one freaked out over the deep state rigging the game due to Taylor Swift dating the winning team’s quarterback. For those non-Americans or those who are unaware, this was sarcasm. As someone who does not have many strong opinions about football, February 11th was just my birthday. Usually, in America, people who don’t like football but are in a situation where they have to watch the Super Bowl annoy those around them by verbally ranking the advertisements that play between the game to anyone unfortunate enough to be around them. If you couldn’t tell, I also don’t care for the ads. I will explain why I don’t like the ads but I have to warn you, this opinion that I have sounds like something the most annoying person on Instagram would post. Okay, warning over. The reason I don’t like the ads is I’m not interested in watching soulless companies with the ability to afford advertising space during the Super Bowl trying their hardest to be “trendy’ and “relatable” in a desperate effort to take money from us.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering to yourself, “Why are we talking about any of this I’m here to get my Alice fix?” Well, today, we’re actually going to be talking about something that does relate to Alice, but not an Alice-related topic. Just hear me out. Today, we are going to be talking about the Wicked movie trailers. It’s not just the Wicked movie that is coming out later this year. No, we are also going to be talking about Wicked, the 1998 movie that Frank Beddor produced and starring Julia Stiles.

Let’s dive into the new Wicked trailer that premiered during the Super Bowl. The adaptation of the iconic musical was directed by Jon M. Chu, and apparently, is going to be slightly different from the original story. What that means, I don’t know. I wanted to give a brief synopsis of the trailer but all I could gather is the cast is quite star-studded, to say the least. I have tailored the cast down to those that I know of because it’s a pretty big cast. The cast includes; Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Galinda, Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, and Ethan Slater, who you might know as that SpongeBob guy who’s dating Ariana Grande, as Boq. It’s safe to say that there is some real star power in this film. As someone who saw Wicked the musical many years ago and remembers very little from it, the trailer did not do much to jog my memory. It does not reveal much of the story if anything at all. That’s not a criticism, by the way. I personally prefer trailers not to give me much information besides who is in it, the genre, and the tone. But, I don’t really know what type of movie this is. I mean, I have an idea because I’ve seen the Wicked musical and remember something about defying gravity but if I was someone who knew nothing about Wicked or The Wizard of Oz, I didn’t really gain anything from the trailer.

Okay, now let’s talk about the trailer for the Wicked movie starring Julia Stiles. It starts with a man being questioned by the police about his wife’s murder. Then, the classic 90’s movie trailer narrator comes in with that classic 90’s movie trailer narrator voice. The information that I could gather from the trailer was that a woman was murdered in her gated community in suburbia, her husband is the prime suspect, a suspicious neighbor gives an attitude to the police, and the daughter, played by Julia Stiles, behaves in a way that leads me to believe she knows more about the murder than she lets on. Look, it had me at the 90’s movie trailer voice. This trailer led me to believe that the story is going to be full of twists and turns and will be a rollercoaster till the end. After watching the film, I was right. Great job trailer!

There is an interesting trend among films as of late that I find incredibly annoying – not telling people what a movie is. For those who know, Wicked is a Broadway musical. That is to say, people are going to sing. With that knowledge, it would be safe to assume that the 2024 Wicked movie would then be a musical as well. And you would assume correctly. But, the trailer does not allude to this fact, in any way whatsoever. Why? This isn’t the first time a musical has been marketed this way. Look at Timothee Chalamet’s Wonka movie that just came out. Apparently, that was a musical too. Nowhere in the trailer was this hinted at. The Mean Girls movie that also just came out was a musical. Why wasn’t this mentioned anywhere in the marketing? I know I made a joke about the song, “Defying Gravity” earlier but if that’s the only song I remember from the musical it must mean it’s a popular song. There wasn’t even a nod to the song in the Wicked movie trailer.

I have a theory as to why studios do this. My guess at the reasoning for hiding a film being a musical is that the West Side Story remake by Stephen Spielberg was a box office flop. If a Stephen Spielberg film flops, that’s a pretty big deal. He’s literally known for making blockbusters. But, when West Side Story, a STEPHEN SPIELBERG film, flopped, the executives, with all their genius, must have concluded that it flopped because people don’t like musicals. This is a weird conclusion because there is a street in New York, Broadway, which is entirely dedicated to musicals. Along with Broadway, there are many other streets where less popular musicals play which are called, “off-Broadway musicals.” If you haven’t guessed it, I disagree with the notion that people don’t like musicals. I think West Side Story flopped because people didn’t want to see a remake of an already good movie. There have been a couple more musical flops that probably scared executives into not marketing musicals as such. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights was a flop, as well as the Dear Evan Hansen adaptation that came out in 2021. I have an idea as to why these movies flopped though. I didn’t see a single ad for In the Heights. How am I supposed to know a movie came out if I don’t know a movie exists? As for Dear Evan Hansen, that movie flopped because it wasn’t good. The Dear Evan Hansen musical is fine but watching a then 28-year-old Ben Platt be a high school sophomore with a perm was tough to get through.

Still image of Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Galinda from the 2024 Universal Pictures film "Wicked".

Due to this information about movies hiding the fact that they are musicals, when I sat down to watch Wicked, the movie starring Julia Stiles, I wondered to myself how far back this practice went. Apparently, it started sometime in the 2000’s because it was not a musical. Or maybe Frank had met with the Oracle of Delphi and foresaw musicals flopping and axed the idea before it could happen. This isn’t the only thing the trailer for Wicked, the adaptation of the musical, hid from people, it’s double dipping. The other thing this trailer hid from the audience is that it’s part 1 of 2. Perhaps, that’s why I wasn’t able to glean much information from the trailer since the movie is just set up with no real ending until the second part is released. This is something that many films have recently been doing. The most recent Spider-Verse film hid this fact from its audience.

Let me tell you, I do not like this practice at all. If I go to a movie, I want to see a beginning, middle, and end. I don’t want to see just the beginning and the first half of the middle. I do get why studios hide this from the audience though. If you also agree with me on not liking this, you probably wouldn’t have seen the second Spider-Verse film until the third one came out, then probably watched part one on streaming. Studios would rather you go to the theater. But, you know how they can ensure that movie fans go to theaters? By just making a complete movie! The new Horizon: An American Saga, starring Kevin Costner, at least, has the decency to put on the posters that it’s broken up into chapters. But, it still makes me wonder, why are movies turning into TV shows?

Still image of Julia Stiles as Ellie Christianson, Vanessa Zima as Inger Christianson, and William R. Moses as Ben Christianson from the 1998 mystery thriller film "Wicked".

Wicked, the movie starring Julia Stiles, was a complete movie… Well, now that I think about it, while the story does come to its full conclusion, the ending does leave an open door for a part two. This might be the reason why Frank is having me write this article, to begin with. What if this was all a ploy to market the second part of a movie that came out 26 years ago? Maybe he pitched the idea to Julia Stiles who will be reprising her role as the mother. This isn’t me pretending to not know what is going on while saying what is going on. I’m legitimately just spitballing here. I’m completely in the dark. Just like the people who have seen the Wicked musical movie trailer.

Look, I know fans of Wicked the musical are a proud bunch. Believe me, I dated one when I was younger. I try not to criticize movies before they come out. For all I know, it could be awesome. What I am criticizing is the execution of the trailer and comparing it to the trailer of a movie that shares the same name that happens to have been produced by my boss. The trailer for Wicked starring Julia Stiles, was the better trailer. I’m not saying that because I have to, Frank gives me a lot (maybe too much) of freedom on these blog posts. I’m saying this because it’s my objective truth. You’re allowed to disagree. Is the trailer dated? Of course, that’s what happens when time passes. But, it gave me just enough information without spoiling anything to get me interested enough to actually watch the film. Whereas the trailer for Wicked the movie is coasting on the fact that it is a retelling of an incredibly popular musical and the cast is full of star power. And for me, that isn’t enough to get me interested. Wow, I’m now realizing that because I wrote this, I am the annoying person who gave a long-winded review of a Super Bowl commercial. Frank turned me into what I made fun of… Now that is truly wicked.

Meet the Author:

Jared Hoffman Headshot

Jared Hoffman graduated from the American Film Institute with a degree in screenwriting. A Los Angeles native, his brand of comedy is satire stemming from the many different personalities and egos he has encountered throughout his life. As a lover of all things comedy, Jared is always working out new material and trying to make those around him laugh. His therapist claims this is a coping mechanism, but what does she know?

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