Today marks the release of “Snow White and The Huntsman,” and for those on the Universal lot, the occasion is one filled with quiet anticipation as the audience numbers come trickling back. Only two weeks after “Battleship” fell alongside that cinematic punching bag “John Carter” as one of this year’s box office failures, the studio is now looking at its Kristen Stewart vehicle in a new light, basically pulling an about-face after so confidently exploring a vast future for it in the past few weeks.
Variety reports that Universal, after projecting a weekend gross for ‘Snow White’ in the low-to-mid $30 million range, are now playing damage control on the project and its future installments. Just as president and COO Ron Meyer backtracked on comments in which he admitted his studio’s unsightly track record, Universal are reassessing their high hopes for ‘Snow White’-related sequels, which the studio seemed so confident in that they’d already brought on writer David Koepp to pen the next chapter. Director Rupert Sanders was also being courted to stay on as director for the next iteration, which early word suggested would follow the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) into further fairy-tale adventures, like a darker, more monochromatic version of the “Shrek” films.
After its reportedly $170 million production budget moved into heavy marketing alongside a highly-publicized Comic-Con appearance, Universal were obviously hoping for more than what their projected soft landing will return, but really the negative factors have always been recognizable. Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron haven’t quite yet reached the point of opening a film based on name alone, and while Chris Hemsworth had the privilege of contributing to “The Avengers” massive opening, place him in “Cabin in the Woods” and see how unfortunately little box-office tread he has.
We weren’t too kind on the film, giving it a C+ for its visual opulence weighed down by a humorless slog of a narrative, but perhaps Universal will find its audience worldwide, where stateside failures go to flourish, and maybe the studio will find it has enough pocket change to make another entry worth their while after all.