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Writer Of Relativity's Snow White Movie Admits Project Borne Out Of Desire To Beat 'Huntsman'

by Kevin Jagernauth
September 15, 2011 9:58 AM
16 Comments
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Meet Jason Keller, the last honest man in Hollywood. The writer recently attended the premiere of "Machine Gun Preacher" and the party hearty Vulture were there in attendance and couldn't help but ask Keller about the still untitled Snow White movie he penned for Relativity. You know, the one that has been competing bitterly with Universal's "Snow White And The Huntsman" over release dates, with Relativity so desperate to come out on top first that Tarsem is already filming for a release date of March 16, 2012. That's right, he's got less than a year to crank this sucker out. And according to Keller, when he was first hired in December last year, Relativity were so hungry to get things rolling that they started getting production departments open before he had even finished the script.

"'Snow White' I wrote in December 2010, and that is unheard of, in terms of writing a script and going into production when it did," he explained. "I'm just being very frank about it ... at the end of last year, [Relativity] looked around, and they saw Universal was coming out with a Snow White. But they had a script that wasn't really working, but they knew they wanted to try to keep that, so when they hired me, the first conversation we all had about that was, 'How do we beat that other project?' So it was literally something like, 'We want to beat that other project. We are very, very motivated to do a Snow White project.'"

"I pitched them a take on it," he said, "and in the same meeting I pitched them a take on it, Tarsem was in the room, he said, 'I like that take,' the studio was in the room, they said, 'We like that take,' and that minute, they commenced me writing — this is December — and they opened the art department, they opened the costume department, and they started scouting locations. All in the same minute! It hadn't even been written yet! It was all because there was a derby race. And it all happened to work. I happened to write a script that was good enough in a very short enough period of time to get Julia Roberts, and we didn't then have to wait for art and costumes because they were already going. So it was a super-cool way to write a movie."

With Roberts as the Queen, Sean Bean as the King and Armie Hammer as Prince Andrew Alcott, the story will strike a tone between adventure and comedy with Snow White teaming up with a pack of seven dwarfs to take on her evil stepmother who has destroyed the kingdom and killed her father. Keller insists the Relativity picture is far lighter and less intense than the Universal movie and the two pictures will be quite different from one another.

"Ours is not dark. I mean, I know 'Snow White and the Huntsman' is very intense, and lots of chain mail, and armor, and Kristen Stewart has a sword. Ours is an adventure, ours is funny — it's a comedic adventure! And there's some great action in it. It's stunningly gorgeous, and it's fun ... Ours will be PG or PG-13, and the other one will probably be a R. We don't know yet. But ours is nothing like theirs," Keller explained.

So the big question that remains is whether or not Tarsem's rushed film will do justice to Keller's script, which was good enough to grab the attention of Julia Roberts, or if the premise in general was so strong from the start that it could be thrown straight into production. Turning movies around on a dime is certainly nothing new -- "X-Men: First Class," "Green Lantern" and the upcoming "Hunger Games" are two recent examples of films that are being delivered under a severe schedule -- but given the public pissing match between the two movies the stakes are raised even higher for Tarsem's film not only to just be good, but great. If it flops there will be a lot of egg on faces and finger pointing, but if it's a hit, Relativity will be able to strut their stuff. Either way, Keller's frank assessment of what happened is pretty refreshing and we'll soon see if his script was worth the rush.

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16 Comments

  • Liz | September 16, 2011 9:42 AMReply

    How am I contradicting myself? Universal had been in talks with Daughtry long before Relativity green lit their project. Relativity just had the fortune of getting ball rolling faster with casting and getting a director.

  • Linda | September 16, 2011 7:10 AMReply

    Sorry, you are contradicting yourself. Relativity clearly made the first move with Universal playing catch-up, as evidenced by everything in their schedules being a few months apart, and Universal resorting to desperate tactics like forcing their release dates earlier and announcing without basis that their project might be turned into a trilogy (it won't).

  • Linda | September 16, 2011 4:41 AMReply

    No, Liz.

    Relativity acquired The Brothers Grimm: Snow White in June, Universal didn't buy Huntsman until September.

  • Liz | September 16, 2011 2:36 AMReply

    @Linda

    Universal has had a Snow White project in the works since 2009. Evan Daughtry's original script had been on the market even longer than that.

  • Liz | September 16, 2011 2:21 AMReply

    @Mia and Linda.

    That is not true. Universal had purchased the rights to the first draft of the SWATH script before Relativity even considered doing a Snow White project. The only thing Relativity got right was its cast before Universal had even finished casting process.

    Besides Sean Bean and Lily Collins have a better resemblance to Snow White, I think Relativity's project is weaker. Singh might be good, aesthetically, with a lens, but he's worked with weaker plots. His upcoming film "Immortals" doesn't look to promising either.

    Universal's film looks more promising, but we will just have to wait and see.

  • tanker | September 16, 2011 2:09 AMReply

    Relativity and Jason should just give me the money they're spending on this sure fire failure and let me go to Vegas. I have a very good winning record at Harrah's and could make a lot more money for them than they'll make with this "I have to get mine out before you do even if we did it in ten minutes it's still great" piece of b.s. lol

    oh and in response to Kim who posted: "Those movies you listed may not have been the greatest, but her name (Julia Roberts) still holds more weight than Theron and Stewart." Thanks for the laugh! Kristen Stewart rules these days, sweetie....

  • Kath | September 16, 2011 2:01 AMReply

    Universal's cast OWNS Relativity's so much it's embarrassing. Julia hasn't made a good movie in YEARS. Sean Bean plays the same character in every film, plus he's hardly in this. I've never heard of Lily Collins and Armie is know for one film.

    The dwarf cast ALONE makes me want to see Huntsman, and I just want to see Kristen Stewart in anything but a Twilight film. I know a helluva lot of people like those films but she is a proper actress and does not get to show it there.

  • Linda | September 16, 2011 1:57 AMReply

    Agreed @Mia.

    And why doesn't anyone mention it's only become a rush job (on both films) because Universal moved up their original December release date to a week before Relativity's original June release, forcing them to retaliate by moving theirs earlier? The writer's comments and the media's interpretations of his comments are misconstruing the situation, making it seem like Relativity only wanted to do the movie to mess with Universal, when really, it's more the other way around.

  • Kath | September 16, 2011 1:49 AMReply

    Universal's cast OWNS Relativity's so much it's embarrassing. Julia hasn't made a good movie in YEARS. Sean Bean plays the same character in every film, plus he's hardly in this. I've never heard of Lily Collins and Armie is know for one film.

    The dwarf cast ALONE makes me want to see Huntsman, and I just want to see Kristen Stewart in anything but a Twilight film. I know a helluva lot of people like those films but she is a proper actress and does not get to show it there.

  • Mia | September 15, 2011 11:05 AMReply

    That's a misleading title. They already had a script and the project in the works before Uni. Keller is saying that he re-wrote the original script and it was fast-tracked so that they could get the film out first which is understandable and standard practice.

    He sounds proud of the script so I don't see what the problem is. You are acting like he wrote the first draft of his version and they started filming a week later! They've had six months to make revisions to the script before they even started filming.

  • nina | September 15, 2011 10:46 AMReply

    What good is sean bean if the film is a "comedy adventure" with nathan lane making jokes throughout the whole movie? This gig sounds like a "mortgage" job for him. You know it's in bad shape when the writer can't even play along.

  • Kim | September 15, 2011 10:46 AMReply

    @beth

    Those movies you listed may not have been the greatest, but her name still holds more weight than Theron and Stewart.

  • darryl | September 15, 2011 10:43 AMReply

    translation: ryan kavanaugh isn't interested in making a good film, he just wants a pissing contest.

  • Mony | September 15, 2011 10:39 AMReply

    Julia Roberts being interested doesn't mean anything. She has been in a rut recently. I don't care which one does better, I just can't wait for them to end.

  • Karl Johannson | September 15, 2011 10:35 AMReply

    Sean Bean is in, that means I'm in!!! I actually think this cast is better than Universal's cast. Bean>>Hemsworth, Hammer>>The other dude playing the prince, Roberts and Theron is a toss up IMO, and so to is Collins and Stewart. But Relativity having Sean Bean certainly gives them an edge for me, the guy is the boss. Can't wait to see him and this movie.

  • beth | September 15, 2011 10:34 AMReply

    Julia Robert's recents projects were shit : valentine day, eat pray and love and Larry crowne so her name being involved in this movie doesn't mean anything. Also They dropped the first script ( that was good) because it wouldn't allow them to rush out.

    And Tarsem doing a comedy and adventure movie? what a gag. Bad move.

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