In 2012, Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” was met with mixed reviews, but the movie went on to make nearly $400 million worldwide. The downside was that it cost $170 million, not including marketing, and after theater splits, the studio didn’t make that much money on it. Worse, Kristen Stewart decided to not come back for any sequels, so the franchise seemed to be in the lurch. Still, Universal decided to soldier on and pivoted the tentpole towards Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character. Maybe those ancillaries eked out a profit and suggested there was more in the tank in terms of international growth.
Whatever the rationale is, “The Huntsman: Winter's War” is nearly here, though I’m not sure what audience its intended for. Introducing two new female characters played by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, ‘Winter's War’ also includes Charlize Theron, who reprises her role as the evil Queen. So ‘Winter’s War’ is stacked with excellent female talent — and yet, it looks like even more of a mess of CGI than the original (tellingly, the director this time, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, was the visual effects supervisor on the original film and was nominated for an Oscar for his work). Here’s the synopsis:
Theron stars as evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Blunt) with an unforgivable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. Retreating to a kingdom far to the north, Freya raises an army of Huntsmen as her protectors, with the only rule that no two of them should ever fall in love.
As a war for domination escalates between the two queens, the hero standing between them is Freya’s most elite Huntsman, Eric (Hemsworth). Alongside fellow warrior Sara (Chastain)—the only woman who has ever captured his heart—Eric must help Freya vanquish her sister…or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity.
A lot of people have asked why Jessica Chastain is slumming in this film, given the Oscar nominee doesn't need this kind of paycheck gig. It’s a good question and while she’s featured in all the marketing materials, it is interesting to note that Universal’s casting list mentions her last for some reason (“Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon and Jessica Chastain”), so take that for what it's worth.
“The Huntsman: Winter's War” opens wide on April 22nd. The new trailer debuted yesterday and today we have the first clip, a TV spot, and new photos. Check it out below.