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The next Barbenheimer has arrived, as Wicked becomes a new challenger for Ridley Scott's Gladiator II

The anticipated Broadway adaptation has been moved up to the same premiere date as the highly anticipated sequel.

L: Wicked movie logo. Right: Gladiator II logo.
Image credit: Universal Pictures; Paramount Pictures.

Initially, the first part (of two) big-screen adaptations of the Broadway musical Wicked - itself an adaptation of the novel of the same name - was scheduled for release in theaters on Wednesday, November 27, 2024, pitting it against the animated musical sequel Moana 2. However, the highly anticipated adaptation has been moved up five days, and is now scheduled for release on Friday, November 22, 2024.

While this new release date helps ensure that moviegoers won’t have to chose between a ticket for the two musicals on the 27th, it nevertheless issues a challenge of a different sort. Currently, Gladiator II is also scheduled for release on November 22nd. Directed and co-produced by the legendary Ridley Scott, Gladiator II features a cast that includes Paul Mescal, Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal. As suggested by the title, the movie is a sequel to 2000’s massively successful Gladiator, also directed by Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Wicked is directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). It too boasts a star studded cast, which includes Cynthia Erivo, Ariana Grande, Michelle Yeoh and Jeff Goldblum.

However, the revised schedule quickly calls to mind 2023’s summer cinema marketing stunt “Barbenheimer.” Denoting the July 21, 2023 release date for both Oppenheimer and Barbie, the months leading up to the movies’ shared release were filled with marketing and commentary that emphasized “competition” between the two movies.

Ultimately, the R-rated Oppenheimer opened to $82.4 million, while the PG-13 Barbie earned nearly double that with $162 million. And the marketing stunt was memorable enough that it even inspired a subplot in the most recent season of The Simpsons.

Commentors have been quick to note paralells between the two pairs of movie releases, including classifying Gladiator II and Oppenheimer as “boy movies” and Wicked, Barbie and Moana as “girl movies.” But other parallels exist among some of the features, including common themes and respective ratings.

However, one question remains: what portmanteau could adequately encompass Gladiator II versus Wicked? "Wickediator"? (By comparison, “Barbenheimer” was practically a gimmie.)

Get a closer look at some of the costumes for Wicked here.

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Avery Kaplan

Avery Kaplan: Avery lives and writes in Southern California. She is the co-author of Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority with her spouse, Rebecca Oliver Kaplan. Avery is Features Editor at Comics Beat, and you can also find her writing on StarTrek.com, The Gutter Review, Geek Girl Authority, and in the margins of the books in her personal library.


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