Disney has been developing their kung-fu take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" for nearly a decade now, with names like Michael Chabon, Natalie Portman and Francis Lawrence coming and going at various points, but their thunder looked to have been stolen in the last year or so by two more traditional takes on the fairy tale, which will go head to head at the box office next year: Tarsem's currently untitled comic take, which stars Lily Collins as the fairest in all the land and Julia Roberts as the wicked queen, and Universal's more action-heavy "Snow White and the Huntsman," which toplines Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.
Many had assumed that the two rivals would put paid to "Snow and the Seven," as it was then called, but that hasn't been the case: Disney hired "Toy Story 3" writer Michael Arndt to polish the script earlier in the year, and now they've appointed a new director to replace the departed Lawrence, as Heat Vision reports that Australian commercial director Michael Gracey, a former animator, will make his feature film debut on the project. But unsurprisingly, some tweaks have been made in view of the competition: the film is now known as "The Order of the Seven," and it sounds like ties to the fairy tale are being minimized, with the film now being described as "an original action film."
The dwarves will now be seven warriors from around the globe, part of an ancient order, and now lost in 19th Century China, who aid a young Englishwoman in a battle against evil. The fighters will be from different countries, from the U.S. to Russia, and each will have their own individual battle technique, which should help to sell a bunch of toys. It's probably a smart move to distance themselves from the other Snow White films, although whether audiences will be fooled thrice remains to be seen.
Gracey's best known for his commercial work alongside colleague Pete Commins, including the disturbing Evian roller babies ad, and the T-Mobile flash-mob promo (watch below), and was at one point attached to direct the Black List-topping Jim Henson biopic "The Muppet Man," although that's come to nothing so far. Hopefully he's got the story telling techniques to go with it -- he's going straight into pre-production on the film, so it sounds like this will be Disney's big hope for 2013.