I know a lot of people are dying to see something done with the Wicked musical (as opposed to Gregory Maguire's book - though there's a whole crowd excitedly watching the various on/off developments for that too) but I wouldn't have thought "animated musical miniseries" would be what we would see first.
Here's the sneak peek or "test & promo animation":
Hmm... I'm very much wondering if this is due to the hard work and inspiration of Heidi Jo Gilbert, who, not only storyboarded "Defying Gravity" herself in her spare time (and received much praise and support for it) but has been (gently) lobbying Stephen Schwartz for permission to do this (or to have him get someone else to do it, but preferably with her on board) for a good couple of years now.
It will be 2D (hand drawn) It will be a televised miniseries event made by a feature animation team (first time this has been done) It’s by a major studio that has done 2D before Not WDFA (Walt Disney Feature Animation) The animation on here is test/promotional material and is not final The event is very early in pre-production I (the Tumblr owner) briefly worked on the production
|By Heidi Jo Gilbert from her "Defying Gravity" personal project storyboard|
Here's her open letter to Stephen Schwartz (who convinced Marc Platt to make a musical instead of a movie and resulted in the award winning Wicked: The Musical):
I know you can relate to the plight of loving a story, loving a medium, and trying to convince someone in power to see your vision! You did it with Marc Platt when you convinced him to make it a stage musical. I’m just approaching you with the same sincerity. Is it possible to talk you out of doing a live action movie adaptation? Would you consider doing a traditionally animated adaptation? In my heart I think the musical needs the medium, and I think the medium needs your musical. I just love them both so much and hopefully that shows through in the story reel.Take a look at Ms. Gilbert's storyboarded sequence, Defying Gravity (it's pretty great):
Sincerely,Heidi Jo Gilbert
TA: What inspired you to make this animation of Wicked?
Heidi: Wow I don’t really know where to start with that question. If I had to give the short answer I’d just say my love for the story and my passion for hand-drawn animation. But if you want the long story…
|by Minkyu Lee (one of the Wicked-in-animation inspired trio)|
I first discovered Wicked from my twin brother. He got the album for Christmas the year it came out. I didn’t know anything about it …but when I looked through the album and saw Stephen Schwartz and Idina Menzel my interest was peaked. I obviously knew Stephen Schwartz from his animation work. And I had seen Idina Menzel on broadway as Amneris in Aida and I loved her. I fell in love with the music and the story. But I think the idea of an animated Wicked first came when I was going to school at CalArts. There was a small group of us Wicked nerds. I think we really annoyed a lot of the other students with our constant stream of Wicked talk. I don’t even remember where the idea came from, it was just like this hive mind. We just had to make it into an animated film! It had to be hand-drawn and we had to be involved! Ha ha! We didn’t think about all the obstacles, how we’re still just students, how hand-drawn animation was dying, how Universal owns the rights. We just loved the story, loved the music, and just had this dream to see it animated.
|by Heidi Jo Gilbert (check the colors! Looks familiar?)|
We all got jobs at Disney after graduation. Three of us just never let go of the idea, me, Jennifer Hager, and Minkyu Lee, two of my best friends from school. I got laid off from Disney when production on The Princess and the Frog was wrapping. I had all this time on my hands, and the freedom to work on whatever I wanted. Minkyu had done these awesome character designs and visual development for Wicked for one of his portfolios. I just kind of thought to myself, nothing is ever going to happen until we just do something. So I just invested my whole heart into storyboarding that sequence. Everyone has their dream projects. This would be mine. I love that the story is about the friendship between two girls, and not just a love story. I like that it’s not really a happy ending. I just think animation would be the perfect way to tell that story onscreen. And I also think hand-drawn animation needs a story like that to tell. I just love them both so much and that’s what inspired me to do it. I know it’s a long shot, but it’s just coming from a sincere desire to see that story animated and the hope to be a part of it!You can read the whole interview HERE.
At the time of the buzz about Ms. Gilbert's boarded sequence, Universal held the rights to using the Wicked property but I'm not sure who is holding it right now. Guess we'll just have to follow the Wicked Leaks Tumblr and watch for updates...