The Snow White battle royale is over
If you’ve been living under a rock, an ongoing movie business story this year is the “Snow White war” being waged between Universal and Relativity. These two used to be financial partners and used to get along pretty well but obviously somebody ran over someone’s dog because they’ve had a falling out that has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in production spending. On Relativity’s side, they’ve got the newly-titled Mirror, Mirror which stars Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, Lilly Collins as Snow White and Armie Hammer as Prince Charming and it’s directed by Tarsem Singh. Universal is doing last year’s black-listed Snow White script, Snow White and the Huntsman (now sporting a Hossein Amini rewrite) and starring Charlize Theron as the Queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Chris “Thor” Hemsworth as the Huntsman and Sam Claflin as the Prince.
The fighting began early in the summer when Universal kicked their project from a December 2012 date to June 1, 2012, putting it ahead of Relativity’s project. Relativity answered by going even earlier, to a March 2012 date. A lot of people thought Relativity “won” but then Tarsem went to Comic-Con and talked about how he doesn’t care about scripts or story and Rupert Sanders, the commercial director turned feature-film guy for Huntsman, floored Hall H with his presentation of concept material for his version of the tale. What emerged next was a strikingly different take on the Brothers Grimm classic. Tarsem is making an action-comedy movie aimed at families and kids and Sanders is making a more grown up, medieval-ish, Lord of the Rings-ish take that involves a sword-weilding Snow White.
Over the last month we’ve seen several stills from Mirror, Mirror that show Tarsem’s signature bright colors and some elaborate, acid-trippy costumes. It looks fun and pretty. In the first trailer that was just released, Huntsman reveals a considerably darker, more twisted vision. (See it soon before it gets pulled down.) So who is winning now? Well now I don’t think it matters. They’re aiming for totally different demographics ten weeks apart. Ten weeks in movie time might as well be six months. The audiences going to theaters in March vs. June are totally different. I think this whole thing got hyped because of the obvious rift between Universal and Relativity, not because 2012 can’t support two Snow White movies. I think it can support these two Snow White movies.
As for Huntsman, well, it looks terrific. And no, I don’t say that as a Kristen Stewart fan—she’s barely in the trailer. No, it’s all Charlize and she looks incredible, purring her way through her lines and killing people (!!!), and the mirror effect made me gasp out loud. If the whole movie is as gorgeous as this trailer, and if it is as good as advertised (I’ve heard the folks at Universal are ecstatic with it so far), Sanders will emerge as a major, major talent. Universal has bet a lot on this pony and so far, it’s looking like they’re in for a championship ride.
Attached - Kristen Stewart continuing to shoot in England today.