‘Wicked’ Shifts Earlier In November, Dates Against ‘Gladiator II’: Is Another ‘Barbenheimer’ Box Office Weekend In Store?

Universal’s massive musical tentpole bet Wicked originally was dated to go head-to-head with Disney Animation’s five-quad movie Moana 2 on Wednesday, November 27, the day before Thanksgiving, but will now go five days earlier on Friday, Nov. 22. A very smart release date change.

Both movies are aimed at females. But Wicked counts a fanbase of a reported 30M people from around the globe who’ve seen the Stephen Schwartz stage show. Not to mention, it’s the first of two parts — this movie has to work. Uni isn’t plotting a Horizon scenario here.

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The new earlier date puts it up against Paramount’s Gladiator II, creating potentially a Barbenheimer moment: One highly anticipated big movie aimed at dudes, the other at females. There’s a lot of box office upside with both movies ahead of the Thanksgiving break, and, as we saw over the Barbenheimer weekend, moviegoers will watch both. Uni has been in this scenario before last July with the guy movie Oppenheimer opening to $82.4M against Barbie‘s $162M.

During its 21-year lifetime, the Wicked stage musical has grossed $2.5 billion around the world.

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Wicked is one of Uni’s cornerstone event films for this year, in the Jurassic World: Dominion sense of the word. The teaser trailer that dropped during the Super Bowl already has clocked 230M views online, with Trailer No. 1 amassing 216M. If that doesn’t scream want-to-see, I don’t know what does. The studio made it a big part of its CinemaCon sessions, not just this year with a tulip visual spectacle, plus Ariana Grande (Glinda) and Cynthia Erivo (Elphaba) in attendance, but last year as well with an early behind-the-scenes look.

This is arguably the first time that a musical has been divided into two parts, with the second half of Wicked opening on November 26, 2025. Crazy Rich Asians filmmaker Jon M. Chu directed, with the musical’s original producers Marc Platt and David Stone also producing the film version. EPs are David Nicksay, Schwartz and Jared LeBoff.

Also opening on November 22 is Angel Studios’ Bonhoeffer.

Meanwhile, Moana 2 now stands alone as the sole wide release on November 27. If anyone has any counterprogramming, i.e. a low-budget action or horror film — there’s a vacancy on that date.

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