You've got to love herd-think from the studios. The race to bring a live-action version of "Snow White" to the screen is on with three different studios clamoring to get their version to audiences first. The first salvo in the "Snow White" battle has been fired by Universal who staked claim to Dec 21, 2012 for their Rupert Sanders version -- called "Snow White & The Huntsman" -- that could star Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp if the rumors turn out to be true. So eager were they to plant their early claim, Universal has chosen the same release date of part one of "The Hobbit," which means they're either supremely confident or severely nuts.
Now Relativity Media has made the next move hiring monosyllabic wizard filmmaker Tarsem -- who had been offered the role a few weeks ago -- to sprinkle his brand of cinematic fairy dust over their gestating and still untitled "Snow White" picture (though once dubbed "The Brothers Grimm: Snow White" and Brett Ratner is one of the producers).
That makes for at least two dueling projects in various stages of pre-production completion. Hewing closer to a Brothers Grimm-like tale, Tarsem's sounds a bit darker and begins with Snow White's step-mother killing her father, the young girl fleeing her kingdom only to return with seven contentious dwarves to rightfully regain what is hers (that's going to be almost 20 dwarves on screen by early 2013). Melisa Wallack, who penned the almost straight to DVD picture, "Meet Bill," with Aaron Eckhart and Jessica Alba wrote the screenplay.
There was a third project too. "I Am Legend" director Francis Lawrence was going to helm "Snow White And The Seven," with Scott Rudin and Andrew Gunn producing for Disney. The pic was to be a retelling of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" set in British colonial China, where Shaolin monks take in a refugee girl, cue plenty of martial arts action (Yuen Woon-ping of "The Matrix" would have been acting as the fight choreographer). Natalie Portman was rumored and Michael Chabon was one of the co-writers, but we haven't heard a peep about this one since early 2009 so we assume it's stuck in development (plus Lawrence also has "Sgt. Rock" and "In the Small," in development with Akiva Goldsman among several other projects).
It remains to be seen if any of these three films will appear in 3D, but Tarsem just did finish the 3D-Ancient Greece actioner "Immortals," so it's a good bet they'll at least consider it for his version. Production should start in March making for one of the most productive periods in Tarsem's career, considering he generally takes several years between films -- so far he's only directed three features, "The Cell," "The Fall" and the just-completed "Immortals." No release date has been set, but Uni's tale starts shooting early 2011 and will get out of the gate first if all goes according to plan.
Dueling projects are nothing new to Hollywood. Baz Luhrman's Alexander The Great project starring Leonardo DiCaprio folded sometime around 2004 when Oliver Stone beat them to the screen with "Alexander" starring Colin Farrell. However, that version was so piss-poor it might have ruined Alexander The Great pictures for years (though not swords and sandals flicks; a successful "Troy" by Wolfgang Petersen hit the same year).
Back to our point, thanks to the massive success of "Alice In Wonderland," expect many more live-action adaptations of Disney animated films -- the stories of which are open to public domain, much like "Snow White" -- and therefore ripe for the picking. [THR]