Ariana Grande & Cynthia Erivo’s “Wicked” Wows at CinemaCon

Director John M. Chu’s Wicked cast a spell at CinemaCon with a little help from his wonderful witches.

Universal unveiled a new look at Chu’s Wicked, with Chu on hand in Las Vegas, alongside Ariana Grande (a Grammy-winning, multiple-platinum superstar) and Cynthia Erivo (a two-time Oscar nominee and Emmy, Grammy, and Tony-winner), to reveal the footage. The Wicked presentation took place in a packed theater at the annual Con, where studios and theater owners get together to celebrate the theater experience and reveal the films that will be filling seats, and with Wicked, it was an especially emotional presentation. Chu teared up as he recalled what it was like to land on Grande and Erivo to play the witches Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. Magic indeed.

A poster for Universal Pictures’ “Wicked.”

Chu, Grande, and Erivo weren’t the only members of the Wicked realm on stage—Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh was there, as were Jeff Goldblum and Jonathan Bailey, along with veteran stage and film producer Marc Platt. The audience was handed lanyards and found tulips in their seat cupholders to help get everyone into the magical mood.

It was a sign of the excitement and belief in their film that Universal, led by chief Donna Langley, who introduced the Wicked team, showed 30 minutes of the musical. “You all got a taste of this stunning film at last year’s CinemaCon,” said Langley. “And the world has loved this musical and celebrated it for more than 20 years. It’s proof that our future is unlimited — if that will give you a little bit of a tease. Thank you all for being here today. The wizard will see you now.”

When the house lights went down, the audience’s lanyards lit up, as did the tulips, which glowed pink and green in honor of Glinda and Elphaba, the latter of whom is tormented as a child over her green skin.

The screen then revealed a giant Oz, who spoke directly to the theater audience. “Who are you, and why do you seek me? Behold CinemaConians! A spectacle awaits that will glorify your palaces of light and sound this holiday season. … Remember, there’s no place like Oz. There’s no place like Oz.”

Oz might be a tough act to follow, but not for Jeff Goldblum, who came up next to reflect on his “long-ish” career and marvel at the magic of making not one but two Wicked films back-to-back. When Chu took the stage, he reflected on first reading Gregory Maguire’s novel 25 years ago, which is set before Dorothy arrives in Oz in a story that helps restore the Wicked Witch of the West’s humanity in the incredible person of Elphaba.

“In a stroke of luck that now seems like destiny,” Chu recalled how he happened to be in San Francisco when the musical adaptation of Maguire’s book was workshopped. “It imprinted itself on me permanently,” he said, and he related to Elphaba, who was someone “who was judged for the way she looks. We dreamed very, very, very big for Wicked. A magical land of sights and sounds that will astonish and performances that will lift your spirits and occasionally break your heart.”

As for landing Grande and Erivo, producer Marc Platt had this to say: “These characters are so aspirational for young people and mean so much to so many people, and we knew we had to get it exactly right. We saw so many hopeful women from every corner of the world.” Then they met with Grande and Erivo, who “claimed each of their roles. When we finally saw them, we knew that we landed on the right pairing. Two strong young women who were destined to play these roles.”  

Wicked enchants in theaters on November 27, with Wicked Part Two arriving on November 26, 2025.

Featured image: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 10: (L-R) Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo speak onstage during the Universal Pictures and Focus Features Special Presentation, featuring footage from their upcoming slate, during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, at Caesars Palace on April 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for CinemaCon)


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