Paul Mescal Wants ‘Gladiator II,’ ‘Wicked’ to Replicate Barbenheimer 5

While it seems like Barbenheimer was one of those phenomenons that will never be replicated, Gladiator II and Wicked: Part One have a chance to bring the same friendly competition to the big screen later this year.

Both films hit theaters ahead of Thanksgiving week, making way for a Barbenheimer part two — and Gladiator II star Paul Mescal is here for it.

“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 ’cause 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 Gladiator sequel takes place several decades after the events of the first film, which starred Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and Connie Nielsen. It follows Mescal’s Lucius — the son of Emperor Commodus (Phoenix) — as he competes as a gladiator after ending up in slavery following an invasion led by Roman general Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal).

Nielsen returns for the second installment, with Denzel Washington, Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger rounding out the cast.

“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,” Mescal told ET. “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.”

Jon M. Chu’s Wicked, on the other hand, centers on Glinda (Ariana Grande) and Elphaba (Cynthia Erivo), who form an unlikely but profound friendship after years of Elphaba feeling misunderstood because of her green skin. After the women have an encounter with the Wizard of Oz (Jeff Goldblum), their relationship reaches a crossroads as their lives begin to take different paths, according to the description.

Gladiator II and Wicked hit theaters on Nov. 22.

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