Gladiator II and Wicked: A Cinematic Showdown Awaits

Two highly anticipated films set to ignite a friendly rivalry at the box office this November

Later this year, the big screen will see a potential repeat of the Barbenheimer phenomenon with the release of “Gladiator II” and “Wicked: Part One” just ahead of Thanksgiving week. Paul Mescal, star of “Gladiator II,” is excited about the prospect.

“Wickdiator doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it? I think my preference would probably be Glicked if it has a similar effect to what it did for Barbie and Oppenheimer,” the Oscar nominee told Entertainment Tonight. “It would be amazing because I think the films couldn’t be more polar opposites, and it worked in that context previously. So, fingers crossed people come out and see both films on opening weekend.”

Ridley Scott’s sequel to “Gladiator” is set several decades after the original, featuring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, and Connie Nielsen. The story follows Mescal’s character, Lucius, the son of Emperor Commodus (Phoenix), who becomes a gladiator after being enslaved following an invasion by Roman general Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal). Nielsen returns, joined by Denzel Washington, Joseph Quinn, and Fred Hechinger. Mescal shared his excitement, saying, “I think the main thing that I’m excited about is the homage that it pays to the first one but also the kind of new direction that the film takes. I think it’s well balanced in that regard in terms of the physical action of the film and the balance of the kind of political aspects of the film as well.”

On the other hand, Jon M. Chu’s “Wicked” focuses on Glinda (Ariana Grande) and Elphaba (Cynthia Erivo), who develop an unexpected yet deep friendship despite Elphaba’s struggles with being misunderstood due to her green skin. Their encounter with the Wizard of Oz (Jeff Goldblum) brings their relationship to a critical juncture as their lives diverge.

Both “Gladiator II” and “Wicked” are set to hit theaters on November 22.

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