Universal Pictures previews ‘Wicked’ and ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s 2’

Las Vegas — Universal Pictures is planning ahead after winning best picture and topping the box office in 2023. The studio's upcoming films include “Wicked,” “Twisters,” and the “Five Nights at Freddy's” sequel.  

On Wednesday, Universal brought Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Yeoh, Jeff Goldblum, Glen Powell, Lupita Nyong'o, Daisy Edgar Jones, and Anthony Ramos to CinemaCon in Las Vegas to excite theater owners and exhibitors. Grande stated, “This whole experience is absolutely impossible to put into words,” as Erivo showed new Thanksgiving footage.  

Goldblum, who plays the man behind the curtain in “Wicked,” also spoke. Once, I was hunted by dinosaurs and flew into a massive spaceship. Goldblum stated he became a fly. However, I have never experienced the unique flavor or enchantment of this film. The entire experience was dreamy.”  

The first portion of “Wicked” opens on Nov. 25, with part two in 2025 during Thanksgiving. The Jon M. Chu-directed film stars Erivo as green-skinned Elphaba and Grande as famous Glinda. The studio just announced that Peter Dinklage will play history professor and goat Dr. Dillamond, while Yeoh plays their school headmistress.  

Since first reading “Wicked” 25 years ago, producer Marc Platt has been on the path. I always intended ‘Wicked’ to be a movie,” he stated. Stephen Schwartz urged him to start with music and Broadway. The movie's future director was inspired by the stage show and saw big screen grandeur.  

“We dreamed very, very, very big for ‘Wicked,’” Chu remarked. Powell showed violent new video from “Twisters,” which hits cinemas July 19. A counterpart to the 1996 Jan de Bont movie, “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung directed and Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg, a “tornado fanatic,” produced. “We really tried to make this film as immersive and real as possible,” Chung said. The ride should be cheerful and fun.  

Universal was the top studio in 2023 thanks to hits like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Oppenheimer,” which grossed over $2.3 billion in tickets, and “M3GAN,” “Cocaine Bear,” “Fast X,” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” which grossed over $295 million worldwide despite its day-and-date release. Universal sold about $5 billion in tickets. The last time Universal topped the rankings was 2015, before Disney ruled for almost a decade.  

“Audiences are sending us a very clear message: They've fired off a bright green flare telling us they're ready for something new,” said Universal distribution head Jim Orr. He continued, “We released more movies in theaters than any other studios.” Universal will release more than 20 films theatrically in 2024, more than any other studio for the third year in a row, including original titles and franchises.  

Illumination creator and CEO Chris Meledandri discussed “Despicable Me 4” (July 3) and a 2026 Mario film, but said their “commitment to producing original animated films remains steadfast.” Their slow-burn smash "Migration," published in late 2023, grossed approximately $300 million worldwide.  

Universal also controls DreamWorks Animation, which released “Kung Fu Panda 4” and will release “The Wild Robot” in September from “Lilo & Stitch” director Chris Sanders and featuring Nyong'o. “If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and do it because it is wonderful,” Nyong’o remarked.  

Horror films, one of the most constant box office genres in recent history, also contribute to the ratings. The company will release “Wolf Man,” starring Julia Garner and Christopher Abbott, in January, “Speak No Evil,” an adaptation of a Danish thriller starring James McAvoy on Sept. 13 (a Friday), and “Five Nights at Freddy's 2” in fall 2025.  

Focus Features, Universal's independent arm that released “Asteroid City” and “The Holdovers” last year, previewed its slate, which includes Sam Taylor-Johnson's Amy Winehouse biopic “Back to Black” (May 17), Jeff Nichols' “The Bikeriders” (June 21), Edward Berger's Machiavellian papal thriller “Conclave” (Nov. 8), and Robert Eggers' “Nosferatu” (De  

“This definitely ain’t your father’s ‘Nosferatu,’” said Focus chairman Peter Kujawski. NBC Universal Studio Group Chairman Donna Langley thanked exhibitors onstage. She said it would have been easy to drop the mic after their last year. But Langley said, “We believe that our best year should always be in front of us and our best projects always in the pipeline.”  

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