With production set to begin in London in April on The Huntsman, Universal is trying to get all their ducks in a row. I say “trying” because it doesn’t seem to be going well. Snow White and the Huntsman was a modest hit in 2012, just eking out enough to make the bean counters think a follow-up could be profitable, but that would largely depend on controlling costs and not spending $500 million to put the thing in theaters. So goodbye Kristen Stewart and your big-ass contract, we’ll make a movie about just Chris Hemsworth’s character, the Huntsman. Except then Charlize Theron (quite rightly) demanded equal pay and Universal is right back in the mega-salary boat they tried to get out of.
The latest news is that Emily Blunt is in talks to play the Snow Queen, who will be seeking revenge for the death of her evil queen sister, played by Theron. Logic problem—Snow White killed the evil queen, so why her sister would be seeking revenge upon the Huntsman is beyond me, except for, you know, salary reasons. I do like the inclusion of Blunt, though. I’d love to see her play a villainess, even if it is in a totally unnecessary/unwanted franchise spin-off.
I don’t think this is a prequel anymore. The plot sounds like a mash-up of a couple different story treatments I’ve heard. The first involved Snow White sending the Huntsman out to find the magic mirror, which had been stolen. He’d then get into a scrape with another undetermined fairytale character, and Snow White and her army would save him in the end. The second, no-Stewart treatment was a prequel about the evil queen killing the Huntsman’s wife. The current story features both the stolen mirror plot AND the evil queen murdering people plot, making for what sounds like a very busy movie.
Which is maybe why director Frank Darabont has left the project due to the ubiquitous “creative differences”. Because no one cares about this movie, the director departing the project has not been front page news as when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man just before it began production last year. But a director peace-ing out just a few months before principal photography is supposed to begin is never a good sign. To be fair, Darabont is prone to creative differences (see also: The Walking Dead), but a strong, authorial director could do a lot to give an obvious business decision like this a sheen of creative interest. So far, no replacement has been named. That’s not like, foreboding at all.