Now that Universal has found its Huntsman in the form of Chris Hemsworth for their fairy tale adaption Snow White And The Huntsman, the studio is moving aggressively to get their film into theaters before a rival Snow White project from Relativity.
Universal announced late yesterday that they were moving the film from its planned December 2012 release berth forward six months to June 1. This puts its release just four weeks before the scheduled release of Relativity’s currently untitled, Tarsem Singh-directed Snow White film on June 29.
Snow White And The Huntsman will be taking the spot on Universal’s release schedule that had been reserved for Judd Apatow’s next, untitled comedy. That film is getting moved back to Snow White‘s former December spot.
In a joint press release statement Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley said –
As [director] Rupert [Sanders] and [producer] Joe [Roth] were finalizing casting and preproduction of Snow White and the Huntsman, we realized that the ambitious and fully-formed world they had promised was blowing away all expectations.. .We’re thrilled that Universal will be bringing this singular version of a timeless story almost seven months earlier than anticipated.
But setting aside the usual PR platitudes, it actually looks like Universal is taking a cue from 2005/2006’s race between the two films based on the life of writer Truman Capote and his authorship of the book In Cold Blood – Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006). Capote hit theaters first, winning critical praise and an Academy Award for star Philip Seymour Hoffman. Infamous was unable to escape the previous film’s shadow and barely registered on anyone’s radar when it was released a few months afterwards.
But having the pole position doesn’t always guarantee the best box office. The summer of 1998 famously saw the release of two end-of-the-world-via-asteroid/comet blockbusters, Deep Impact and Armageddon. And while Deep Impact had an almost two-month jump out of the gate over Armageddon, it was the latter film that did the better business.
Relativity was the first to announce a Snow White project back in June of 2010, when it acquired Melissa Wallack’s spec script. The studio soon got Tarsem Singh attached and then landed the casting coup of Julia Roberts signing on to play the Evil Queen. Lily Collins and Armie Hammer round out the cast as Snow White and the Prince respectively.
Universal, meanwhile, got into the fairy tale business after it acquired Evan Daugherty ‘s Black List-placing script. Their project heated up with the casting of Kristen Stewart in the role of Snow White and Charlize Theron in the role of the Queen, though seemed to stall for a while it cycled through numerous candidates for the Huntsman. That was finally resolved this weekend with the hiring of Hemsworth.
Both films are scheduled to go into production fairly soon, and it now looks as if they’ll be sprinting as hard as they can towards their respective finish lines. But it remains to be seen if Relativity will back off from their June 29, 2010 release date or go mano a mano with Universal in thirteen month’s time.