Snow White and the Huntsman made a ton of money. And like most films that make a ton of money (say, a certain bot-morphing franchise with a new sequel this weekend), it’s mostly immune to criticism. No one cares about sagging reviews when your film just brought in the GDP of a small country. But there’s some kind of criticism that will sink your film-Titanic: a star that’s poison in the tabloids. It’s why Mel Gibson is just now crawling his way back into an Expendables role after all those racial slur incidents a few years back.
And Snow White and the Huntsman is no stranger to this kind of low controversy. You may remember that in 2012 star Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Sanders were caught in a love affair, kindled by the fires of British actors digitally altered to look like dwarves. What you might not remember is the tangled mass of media reporting that followed immediately afterwards.
First, the official reports claimed Stewart had been booted from the project, and the sequel would erase Snow White and go all Huntsman, all the time. Then Universal came out with a public denial: “Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.” A couple months later, Sanders was officially given the boot, while Stewart was kept on for part two. Stewart herself confirmed it. Those across the nation who saw this story unfold (from the tabloid headlines that stick out in line at the grocery store) could finally rest easy.
Now comes more Snow White news. The great director caper has been solved, and Universal has decided on Frank Darabont to pick up where Sanders left off. They’re in talks now, but Darabont has his own spin for the sequel that the Universal execs are apparently drooling over (according to The Wrap), so it’s doubtful that negotiations will sour.
This isn’t much of a surprise, given that Darabont has been a frontrunner for the past month. What is surprising is another little tidbit in The Wrap’s report. In between the Darabont chatter they also revealed that Stewart “is not expected to return,” and that the sequel might be the original Huntsman-centric take that was at the top of the rumor mill. The film might even delete the “Snow White” part of the title, which would conveniently wipe the actress from everyone’s minds and also give the film one of those trendy “basically the same as the first movie” sequel titles, like Fast & Furious or The Final Destination.
And then, for the second time this week comes The Hollywood Reporter, to put a great big check mark on everything The Wrap just suggested. Stewart is out. Chris Hemsworth is in. And Snow White and the Huntsman 2 is now just The Huntsman. At least it’s a far smaller mouthful than Snow White and the Huntsman 2.
Now all we really need to know is what a Snow White story looks like after you take a giant tube of white-out and cover up every single mention of Snow White. Will the dwarves still remember her? How about the evil queen who was defeated by her in combat? Will they just kill off a Kristen Stewart lookalike in the first two minutes, hold a quickie funeral and then continue on as planned? Whatever happens, this plus Darabont might make The Huntsman into something we could actually get excited over.