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New ‘Wicked’ Trailer: Breakdown & Early Box Office Forecast

Marketing is finally ramping up for Universal’s upcoming blockbuster, Wicked. The trailer was released Wednesday morning, featuring three-and-a-half minutes of footage from the film. After decades of deciding what to do with the property, Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In The Heights) saved Wicked from pre-production hell, adapting the story into two blockbusters.

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In November 2021, Tony-award winning Cynthia Erivo was cast as the titular “Wicked Witch” alongside Grammy-award winning Ariana Grande as “Galinda the Good Witch.” The two-part musical-prequel to The Wizard of Oz finally wrapped filming on the duology in January, after being halted in it’s final weeks due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes. The second part is currently finishing post-production, and is due to be released November 26, 2025. 

This article contains mild spoilers for Wicked solely based on the trailer and production, there is no presumptive speculation based upon Wicked the Musical/book. 

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

A Wicked Breakdown

Opening with a shot of Emerald City, Galinda (Ariana Grande) narrates, “Are people born wicked?” We cut to a shot of Elphaba’s hat as Galinda continues, “Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” A flying monkey smashes through the glass behind Elphaba’s hat, as we cut to the familiar scene of Galinda yelping at Elphaba’s (Cynthia Erivo) green skin at Shiz University, from the first look three months ago.

After a translucent-green version of Universal’s logo, Miss Morrible (Michelle Yeoh) welcomes Elphaba to the university. We see some beautiful shots of the school featuring a set of lakes and boats. We see Fiyero (Jonathan Bailey) walk up to the school in a blue suit, smiling at schoolgirls, as Miss Morrible assigns Galinda as Elphaba’s roommate. We get a little bit of Erivo and Grande’s dynamic charm in a split-second reaction to Miss Morrible’s assignment.

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In a cut to Galinda showing Elphaba her fantabulously pink room, we get our first snippet of “Popular”, sung by Grande. For fans of the artist, this is a full circle moment for her, as her first album Yours Truly features an interpolation of the song, dubbed “Popular Song.” As Elphaba remarks at her little space, we get a shot of Galinda dancing in a pink hallway and hanging from the chandelier in her room. “I was promised a private suite, but thanks for asking.”

We then get a scene of Galinda and Elphaba training on the grounds, Galinda sporting a double-ponytail in a pink athletic-wear dress, and Elphaba in blue and black with her micro-braided hair in a bun. After a quick cut to Galinda shoving Elphaba out from a desk, we see another scene of Elphaba jumpscaring Galinda with a “Boo!”

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Elphaba’s “wicked” laugh fades into a lecture by Dr. Dillamond (Peter Dinklage) as he narrates exposition. As he says “In today’s Oz, a real sorcerer who possesses true magic has become all too rare,” we see a scene of Elphaba exhibiting powerful magic to Miss Morrible, to her surprise. The next shot, however, comes to Galinda’s shock, as she exclaims that Elphaba was the cause of all the chaos that just happened, edited over the narration. The next few seconds of the trailer are very reminiscent of Professor McGonagall offering Harry Potter a spot on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, as Miss Morrible points to Elphaba to “come with her.”

We get an immersive shot of a teacher lighting the Shiz University lamps in front of the gates, as we J-cut to Miss Morrible confirming to Elphaba that she’s “the one the Wizard has been waiting for.” After a shot of a professional-looking Elphaba staring down from a tower, glaring over Galinda’s flabbergasted face, we cut to a scene of Galinda getting ready for an event. After conspiring, Galinda nastily passes down an “ugly” family heirloom, her grandmother’s wizard’s hat, to Elphaba in an attempt to embarrass herself at the event. 

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The next few shots reveal more of the movie’s story, as Galinda shows an emotive face to Elphaba proudly donning the hat at the event. Following a hug between the two, Elphaba invites Galinda to come with her to meet the wizard. There are a few shots inside Emerald City, before we finally see the mechanical Wizard, and a shot of the actual wizard (Jeff Goldblum) behind the robot. 

Elphaba’s battle cry from “Defying Gravity” overlays the “This Thanksgiving” text, as she narrates, “something bad is happening in Oz,” over swarms of flying monkeys flying around the Emerald City. We see a shot of a growling flying monkey and a shot of Galinda arriving at a scene in her pink bubble as The Wizard narrates, “The best way to bring folks together is to give ’em a real good enemy.”

The final few shots of the trailer pass by quickly as Erivo’s rendition of “The Wizard and I” plays in the background. There’s a propagandistic banner displaying Elphaba as wicked, a burning bonfire sculpted to look like Elphaba, an exclamation from Elphaba as she figures out The Wizard’s secret, a battering ram into a wooden tower, Miss Morrible issuing an order not to let Elphaba escape after calling her “this wicked witch,” the tulip field, a look at Fiyero with Elphaba, Elphaba performing magic, a sunset shot of the tower, and Elphaba reaching for her broomstick, the final shot in the collage. 

Galinda and Elphaba share a moment before heading out for battle. Galinda advises Elphaba to “Don’t be afraid,” as a collage flashing Elphaba back to her childhood helps her gain enough confidence to finally exclaim, “I’m not afraid. It’s the Wizard who should be afraid of me.” The trailer ends with Elphaba flying out the window with her battle cry, and we finish with the Wicked logo.

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Wicked’s Box Office Prospects

One noticeable thing is that this movie isn’t marketing itself as a “Part 1,” following a marketing strategy started by Dune to officially announce the second part to the general audience at the end of the first movie. Despite recent marketing strategies to not include the musical’s soundtrack in the trailers (Mean Girls, Wonka), Wicked seems to be leaning into the musical side of the movie, following surveyed target audience confusion these past few months.

However, this leaves room for how Wicked: Part Two may market themselves. Wicked is poised to compete against Moana 2 on the same day at the box office, a film with no official trailer, cast, or soundtrack ready to market as of right now. This advantage seems to be what Wicked is leaning into when promoting, following the unexpected announcement that Moana 2 would release this year. Should Wicked flop at the box office, it’s possible that Wicked 2 may add a subtitle to the name. Fans online have suggested Wicked: Forever, while others (coming off from the hype of Dune: Part Two) suggest they’ll simply call it “Part Two.” 

Even if Wicked manages to surpass Moana 2 this year (a good soundtrack is Moana’s biggest bet against “a new Ariana Grande album,” especially as Disney continues to struggle with meeting their theatrical consumers with their streaming audience), there’s still the monster that is Avatar 3, coming out three weeks after Wicked 2. Wicked 2 may need to refocus the marketing of the film to be about The Wizard of Oz, as the second act of the story takes place concurrently with the events of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel; almost acting like a modern-day musical remake of Victor Fleming’s original film. 

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

If Wicked isn’t able to break even at the box office, as many box office analysts remain bearish towards the existence of a modern audience for the musical-theater film genre, I suspect that Universal may consider subtitling the film Wicked: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, even going so far as to consider dropping the Wicked title for the second film entirely. This strategy could benefit Universal in the long run, as the market validation for Oz, rather than Wicked, appeals to a wide range of ages and could start a new franchise for Universal to profit off of, maybe even leading up to an Emerald City at Universal Studios’ Epic Universe.

Despite the many outcomes of this movie, one thing is clear: you will not be able to avoid the marketing. Whether that affects the movie positively or negatively remains to be seen. Still, Jon M. Chu has a lot of weight on his shoulders, and his choices in casting Grande and Erivo continue to prove his pattern of making his movies as audience-appealing as possible. 

Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Wicked is directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Galinda, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard, and Michelle Yeoh as Miss Morrible. The film will release in theatres, worldwide, on November 27, 2024. 

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Based in Chicago, Illinois. An aspiring singer and director, Bhargav is currently pursuing his undergrad in Marketing, Information & Decision Sciences, and Film in Chicago. Since co-founding Feature First, Bhargav focuses on industry analyses, box office reports, quality movie reviews, and helping maintain consumer engagement across all social platforms.