By Ryan J. Downey
Stephen Daldry’s last big movie included New York City as a central part of its story. Now the “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” director is in talks to direct the big screen version of one of the biggest musicals to rock Broadway in recent memory. According to Deadline, Universal wants the English filmmaker to helm the movie adaptation of “Wicked,” the “Wizard of Oz” prequel that began as a book before it exploded as a top-grossing musical.
Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” fills in the blanks about the titular “Oz” villain’s backstory. The Broadway musical averages $1.4 million per week. Universal was also responsible for the big-screen version of the Broadway hit “Mamma Mia!.”
Daldry is no stranger to the stage. In addition to his work as film director and producer, he has a rich background in theater, including a Tony Award for “An Inspector Calls.” Every single feature film he’s directed has been nominated for an Academy Award for either Best Director or Best Picture: “Billy Elliot” (2000), “The Hours” (2002), “The Reader” (2008) and last year’s “Extremely Loud,” which grossed just under $32 million for Warner Bros.
Daldry’s stage productions have included this year’s “Bridget Jones Diary” on London’s West End). If Universal signs him, he’ll once again be telling a female driven story (“Wicked”’s other main character is Glenda the Good Witch). “I get frustrated because they say, ’How can a man talk about women?’” he told the UK’s Guardian in a 2003 interview. “I say, ’Steven Spielberg didn’t need to be an alien to talk about ’ET’. You don’t need to be a dog to direct ’Lassie.’ It seems to be a denial of the process of imagination, which is a posh word for ’guesswork.'”
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