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The battle over 'Snow White' movies: Who will be the fairest and first of all? [update]

May 23, 2011 |  1:12 pm

Kristenstewart When Universal Pictures announced last week that it was moving up the release date for "Snow White and the Huntsman," its reimagining of the classic fairy tale, to June 1, 2012, it was clear the studio had thrown the first punch in a contentious bout to get its "Snow White" movie to theaters first. (The film, which will star Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, was previously slated for December 2012.) Universal is battling against Relativity Media, which had already slated its untitled "Snow White" film (starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen) for June 29, 2012. 

Now sources say Relativity Media is deliberating whether to make the next move and jump its  film ahead of Universal's. It's a game that seems unlikely to end well: Neither movie has started filming.

Director Rupert Sanders is supposed to begin shooting Universal's $160 million-budgeted fairy tale in August in London. Relativity, meanwhile, is expected to start production sooner but with plans to turn that film (which also stars Lily Collins as the titular character and "Social Network's" Armie Hammer as the prince) into a 3-D spectacle, the movie will require more work in post-production. Correction: Relativity confirms that its "Snow White" will not be in 3-D.

Let's see if Relativity goes forward with another release-date move. They don't have a lot of room to maneuver. May 2012 looks pretty crowded with "The Avengers," "Men in Black: 3D" and "Battleship" already scheduled. However, "What to Expect When You're Expecting" is the only female-centric film so far to stake a claim to the month, though the studio says its movie will be a family-friendly action adventure film closer to the original Disney classic.

There is no guarantee that going first will result in better performance at the box office, but more often than not, it seems to pay off. "Tombstone," which came out in late 1993, grossed more than double what another western-themed film, "Wyatt Earp," did when it was released six months later. In 2004, "Troy" made close to $500 million worldwide when it debuted six months ahead of another swords-and-sandals epic, "Alexander," which earned just $167 million around the globe. Only "Armageddon" disproved the first-is-best theory: It earned $200 million opening only two months after the disaster movie "Deep Impact," which grossed $140 million.

It will be interesting to see how far these two studios can push it. They can shave only so much time off the schedule before the cast and crew start to balk.


Hollywood is churning out classic fairy tales with a twist

Kristen Stewart vs. Lily Collins: Who's the fairest of them all?

After 'Twilight,' a fairy-tale renaissance looks for a happy ending

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Kristen Stewart. Credit: Evan Agostini/AP