There are many arguments to be made that “Star Wars” ruined the movies, but one of the more persuasive is the way that it popularized the idea of the trilogy. George Lucas didn’t invent the concept (that would have been the Ancient Greeks, thank you), but by making both the original films and the prequels, he popularized the concept, ensuring that almost any hit film would be intended as only the first part of three films, each one bigger than the last. And to a degree, it makes sense: it mirrors the three act structure that virtually every screenplay uses as a template, enabling a complete story with ups and downs to be told over a longer running time.
Except we now live in a world where tentpoles are designed from the outset to be trilogies, leading to pictures like “Iron Man 2,” “Tron: Legacy” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” films which fail to stand alone, but instead serve to move the pieces around for the next installment, or to pay off a handful of pointless threads left over from the previous entry, pushing character and plotlines in wild directions inorganically, dictated by the need to have another tentpole ready two summers later. The latest film threatening to join them? “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
The revisionist version of the classic fairy tale, one of the big spec sales of last year and one of Universal’s great hopes for 2012, doesn’t even start filming until next month. But that hasn’t stopped producer Joe Roth (“Alice in Wonderland“) from telling EW that he hopes that the film will be the first of three, saying “This story will end, but there will be questions remaining for these three characters.” Whatever happened to happily ever after, eh? Interestingly, it seems to have caused some script changes as well, because *spoiler* the script that we read climaxes in the heroic death of one of the main heroes, but Roth’s comments seem to suggest that Snow White (Kristen Stewart), The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and the prince (Sam Clafin) will all live to grace another one-sheet.
Returning to the immediate future for a moment, Roth talks up the first film and its characters: “We retain the basic story in the same way we retain the basic story of Alice, a young girl meant to be the queen who is cast out. The Huntsman is a mercenary, in the sense that he’s a guy who is very able in the woods, more able than most anyone. His job is to capture runaway girls, who are all fleeing the kingdom because of the queen. He’s a nondescript bounty hunter, as we first meet him… He’s not a nice guy, but not only that, he’s someone who has lost hope and lost faith. He has lost his wife, given up on everything.”
He also discusses the casting of “Twilight” star Stewart in the lead role, saying that “Frankly, what we did, we searched high and low for an unknown. Which was my want after ‘Alice,; ” he says. “As we went through it, it just became evident to me that Kristen occupies a space in the universe where she’s a terrific actress only known for one part. I hope this is a movie that will appeal to those who find “Twilight” appealing, but also [Stewart] is someone who has some piss and vinegar in her.” And Roth also promises that Charlize Theron, who’ll play the wicked queen, will be a villain to remember: “She’ll be larger than life. Evil without any burden of guilt.”
Commercials veteran Rupert Sanders is directing, and Stewart, Hemsworth, Theron and Clafin will be joined by Lily Cole, Sam Spruell, and, as the seven dwarves, Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard, Toby Jones, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham and Ray Winstone. It sounds like some kind of presence is planned for Comic-Con, although with the film not having started shooting yet, we can’t imagine it’ll be more than concept art and the chance for stalky fans to take pictures of Stewart. The film will hit theaters on June 1, 2012 after a rushed 10-month production schedule, with Universal and Roth hoping “Snow White and the Infinite Sadness” and “Snow White’s Finest Hour” will follow in 2014 and 2016.