Move over, Barbenheimer — ‘Wicked’ and ‘Gladiator 2’ could be the blockbuster combo of the year

Glinda (Ariana Grande) hugs Elphaba (Cynthia Erivo) in Jon M. Chu's "Wicked"
(Image credit: Universal Studios.)

Looking forward to Jon M. Chu's "Wicked" adaptation? Good news: You'll get to watch even sooner than you thought.  

Originally, the movie was set to hit theaters on November 27, but it has now been widely reported that Universal's musical movie will instead arrive five days earlier, on Friday, November 22. 

This could be a really smart play for the studio. On its original release date, "Wicked" would have arrived at the same time as "Moana 2." Given the enduring popularity of the 2016 predecessor, Disney's latest effort is bound to be a big family hit, especially so close to Thanksgiving. 

That's not the only reason this could be a big play. Now, "Wicked" will face stiff competition from a very different feature altogether: the highly anticipated follow-up to Ridley Scott's historical epic, "Gladiator 2."

Given just how different these movies seem to be, I'm willing to bet we'll at least see an attempt to try and make this 2024's answer to "Barbenheimer", the movie event of last year; fans are already pairing the two flicks together on social media. Now we've just got to figure out how to squash the two titles together. 

Wicked - Official Trailer - YouTube Wicked - Official Trailer - YouTube
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OK, what was Barbenheimer? 

If you somehow weren't swept up in all the hype last year, "Barbenheimer" was a phenomenon centered on the simultaneous release of two of the biggest movies of 2023: Greta Gerwig's "Barbie", and Christopher Nolan's biopic, "Oppenheimer".

Both movies landed on July 21, 2023, and there were rallying cries across social media, memes, posters and merch urging viewers to see both back to back ... even though they couldn't really have been more different. 

"Oppenheimer" is a grand, three-hour-long look at the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the first atomic bomb. "Barbie," by comparison, is a fun, frenetic comedy that sees Barbieland changed forever following Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken's (a scene-stealing turn from Ryan Gosling) trip to the real world. 

It might sound like a joke, but "Barbenheimer" was everywhere for a time, and it undoubtedly helped make the two movies a huge success, as the campaign calling on viewers to see both movies saw them both becoming colossal hits. "Barbenheimer" was such a big deal it even has its own Wikipedia page.

If you want to recreate the Barbenheimer experience from the comfort of your own sofa, you can stream "Oppenheimer" on Prime Video and watch "Barbie" on Max right now. 

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Staff Writer, Streaming

Martin is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, covering all things movies and TV. If it’s in the theaters or available to stream somewhere, he’s probably watched it… especially if it has a dragon in it. Before joining the team, he was a Staff Writer at What To Watch where he wrote about a broad range of shows that stretched from "Doctor Who" and "The Witcher" to "Bridgerton" and "Love Island". When he’s not watching the next must-see movie or show, he’s probably still in front of a screen playing massive RPGs, reading, spending a fortune on TCGs, or watching the NFL.