In perhaps the biggest news story of the day, despite Universal’s possession of an option for a Kristen Stewart reprisal in the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, they have decided to drop her from the franchise going forward. This news follows tabloid-related events in recent weeks that had the Twilight starlit admitting to an affair with franchise director Rupert Sanders, but it might not be a direct result of what has happened.
Rumors started to surface well before the launch of Snow White and the Huntsman that Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character would be taking center stage in any such sequel offering. The Thor actor was a major draw in the production and many consider his presence responsible for a startling 50/50 gender split with the film’s audience that many thought would be impossible given the source material. Hemsworth is optioned up for an undisclosed number of films in the franchise, so he undoubtedly will be returning.
THR reports that there is doubt in the return of Rupert Sanders though as the commercial director-turned-filmmaker may be a controversial choice for the chair. The studio may choose to distance themselves from Stewart going forward and that might even mean ditching a fantastic director who is accredited with giving Snow White and the Huntsman its highly appealing visual flair. After receiving fairly decent reviews despite a rushed production schedule, many expected Sanders to be a lock to return.
In regards to David Koepp who was hired to write the series’ second outing, he is now gone. Even though he is one of the most highly sought after scribes in the industry and his coming aboard was huge, Universal is opting to go a different direction than what they originally hired the man to write meaning that this change of format likely came following more recent events and not before them. An interesting, but unverified revelation for sure.
Do be warned that this might have killed the franchise. Universal did make money on Snow White and the Huntsman; however, such an overhaul sounds like the type to send a franchise sequel into ‘developmental hell.’ The point? The movie just became a whole lot less likely to ever see the light of day. If it does end up happening, shooting will not begin until July 2013 as Chris Hemsworth has a production slate that includes Thor: The Dark World and Steven Spielberg’s Robopocalypse–two big projects that might take some time to complete.
Update 8/15: Some added information needs to be mentioned since this news first broke. Other publications have been trying to get validation from Universal on the story that THR ran to which the reps responded ‘no decisions have been finalized’ or something to that effect. That said, I would say it is completely safe to buy into this original story with the added sentiment that if the retooled concept did fail, they would consider going back to the old format.
I am also seeing varying disagreement on whether or not the film’s stars are optioned up for another film and I have read from several trades that they are, but at the same time witnessed an interview Kristen Stewart gave where she said they did not have to do a sequel if they did not feel it would be right to do so. That of course suggests that no such option (on her at least) existed.
Ultimately, it looks incredibly likely that while she might not have had the option, Chris Hemsworth did mostly because Stewart cost more. When you are already paying a hefty price for someone, locking them in for sequel efforts becomes less of a priority and Stewart regularly commands $10 million per picture.
Update #2: Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley has released the following statement:
“We are extremely proud of Snow White and the Huntsman and we’re currently exploring all options to continue the franchise. Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.”