Dueling ‘Snow White’ Films Appear to be Different Enough, but Will That Matter?

ON

We’ve been covering the two upcoming Snow White features since the beginning as Universal Pictures and Relativity Media appeared to be making two films that would trudge the same territory. The fact they were both about Snow White was enough to make most of us scratch our heads, as the past suggests dueling material typically ends with at least one dud.

However, when ComingSoon premiered the concept image you see to the right from Tarsem Singh’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White we got our first true inclination these would be two dramatically different films as it came with a tagline saying, “A comedic adventure awaits…” Comedic you say? It seems they are taking the “spirited adventure comedy” part of the studio provided synopsis a bit further than I had originally assumed:

In Relativity’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, starring Oscar-winner Julia Roberts and breakout star Lilly Collins (The Blind Side), an evil Queen (Roberts) steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess (Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over. The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the object of their affection, Prince Andrew Alcott, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen. The film will begin production in June 2011.

So while Tarsem goes the comedic route, what of Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman? Well, this re-imagining of the classic fairy tale sounds like it will be much darker. The film features an expanded role for the Huntsman (Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth) who is ordered by Snow White’s evil stepmother (Charlize Theron) to take Snow White (Twilight star Kristen Stewart) into the woods and kill her. Instead, he lets her go and he becomes something of a mentor, teaching her to fight and survive. I assume sex will also be involved, perhaps just after a montage.

Casting for Huntsman has continued recently with Ian McShane landing the role of Caesar, the leader of the dwarfs, followed by news Eddie Izzard will play the biggest and burliest dwarf named Tiberius, Bob Hoskins will play the blind dwarf named Constantine, Toby Jones will play a timid dwarf named Claudius, Stephen Graham will play the angry-looking dwarf named Nero and Eddie Marsan will be joined by Ray Winstone as the two will play twins Hadrian and Trajan. Yes, the one thing both films will have in common is you won’t get Disney’s Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey.

In Tarsem’s film the dwarfs will be played by Mark Povinelli as Half-Pint, Jordan Prentice as Jaques, Danny Woodburn as Teach, Sebastian Saraceno as Julius, Ronald Lee Clark as Stench, Martin Klebba as Butcher and Joe Gnoffo as Grub. I have never read the Brothers Grimm story of which Tarsem’s film is based so I have no idea if these names remain consistent with that story, though it’s obvious from the names for the dwarfs in Snow White and the Huntsman we are looking at Roman Emperors, whether that will play a part in the film beyond some kind of character traits I have no idea.

Singh’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White is set to begin production this month for a March 16, 2012 release while Snow White and the Huntsman will be starting later this summer for a release only three months later on June 1, 2012. If anything I would say the release dates don’t make much sense considering current DVD and Blu-ray windows suggest Tarsem’s film could be hitting store shelves the same month Universal’s film hits theaters.

Originally Tarsem’s film was set for a June release with Huntsman set to hit theaters on December 21, 2012, but as the two films jockeyed for position Relativity won out with the March release, a date Huntsman obviously couldn’t best.

As of now Tarsem’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White is actually being referred to as the “Untitled Snow White Project” so Relativity may decide on a completely different title altogether as trailers for both films are sure to be running against one another unless Universal decides to wait until the last minute to promote their June release. It will be curious to see how the marketing plays out as Relativity certainly has the upperhand as far as release dates go and the fate of Universal’s film seems to be in the hands of its predecessor.

If Tarsem’s film is no good, what does that do for the Universal production three months later? Will audiences risk seeing two bad films based on the same material in a row? Or what if it’s good? Will a second option even be necessary at that point? Will they be different enough to warrant audiences pay for both?

A lot of questions and they’ll all be answered in less than a year.

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for the casting information on Snow White and the Huntsman.