How many new Snow White movies does the world need?
The answer: many, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.
The movie business has been scrambling for the past several months to bring the classic fairy tale — most famously incarnated 73 years ago in Disney's first feature-length animated film — back to the big screen.
Now we're getting closer to seeing a new version. Or three new versions.
The upstart distributor Relativity confirmed Monday afternoon that the commercials director Tarsem Singh — he of the sweeping "The Fall" a few years back — will be directing the company's version of the fairy tale. The movie is a more classic take on the Brothers Grimm story (about a beautiful princess who is forced to flee her evil stepmother and then takes refuge with titular little people, of course). Singh is finishing up his swords-and-sandals film "Immortals" and then will get to the land of princes and evil queens.
The move puts the Relativity movie on roughly even footing with a competing "Snow White" film: "Snow White & the Huntsman" from "Alice in Wonderland" producer Joe Roth, in which the supporting character of the Huntsman, the stepmother's hitman in the original fairy tale, is given a back story and a richer life as he and Snow White go on the run together.
That movie, from Universal, already has a filmmaker, Rupert Sanders (also a hot commercials director), and has been a half-step ahead of the Relativity film as it is seeking actors. (Lots of casting rumors in the past few days suggest that Johnny Depp is being "offered" the role of the huntsman, but really, what role isn't he offered?)
Would both go forward, even with the different spins? For a while it looked like one of the companies might back off, but with Universal paying millions for its version and now Relativity showing its seriousness — the company says it could begin shooting in March — the films could both be hurtling for the multiplex or toward each other.
As all this stirs, Disney is planning a new version of its own, with the dwarfs reimagined as Kung Fu-practicing Shaolin monks. With all the craziness swirling around the other two films, that actually seems like the sanest idea of all.
— Steven Zeitchik
Photo: A still from the 1937 "Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs." Credit: Mike Pucher/Disney Enterprises.