Did you know there are actually two different Grimm’s Fairytales characters named Snow White? It’s true: Two characters bearing the names Schneeweißchen and Schneewittchen – both of which translate roughly to “Snow White” in English – each appear as leading players in two separate, completely unrelated stories in the Grimms’ famous compendium of ancient Teutonic folk legends; Snow White (the one immortalized by Walt Disney) and Snow White & Rose Red, a lesser known story about two young sisters living with their mother in a mountain cabin who encounter an enchanted bear and a mysterious dwarf.
The quirk of translation has proved mildly confusing for generations of fairytale lovers, but it’s about to get even more so. Why? Well, because Disney has picked up a live-action fantasy pitch that aims to merge both stories into a single new live-action adventure, titled Rose Red.
Written by Justin Merz from a pitch by Evan Daugherty (who also scripted Snow White and the Huntsman for Universal), Rose Red is described by THR as being a revisionist take on the original Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs that adds Rose Red to the story as Snow’s previously-unmentioned sister. In this version, after Snow White falls into her poison apple-induced “Sleeping Death,” Rose (estranged from her sister for unknown reasons) seeks out and teams up with the Seven Dwarfs in order to undertake a dangerous quest that could hold the key to breaking the curse and reviving Snow White.
It’s not difficult to see why Merz’s pitch appealed to Disney studio heads’ current sensibilities; it’s a story featuring a pair of sisters with a complicated relationship (a’la Frozen) that takes on the form of a revisionist live-action take on one of Disney’s animated classics (Alice in Wonderland) reimagined to center on female agency (Maleficent) – in this case, by focusing less on Prince Charming and more on a sisterly-bonding angle (Frozen again) with a dash of The Hobbit for good measure. Originally conceived as standalone feature, Daugherty will reportedly rework the overall premise to be more explicitly a companion-piece to Disney’s Snow White animated movie.
Red Rose makes sense from a studio standpoint, as audiences have proven to have a strong appetite for live-action fairytales in recent years – especially those that carry the Disney brand or association with tales best known for their Disney versions. Maleficent was a commercial hit for the Mouse House; this year’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is widely expected to follow its predecessor to box-office gold; Once Upon a Time is now in its fifth season on ABC; and a tidy box office is predicted for Universal’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Tripp Vinson of Vinson Films is producing Red Rose, which is one of three live-action fairy tale films he’s cooking for Disney; the other two being Prince Charming, a comedy told from the perspective of the titular prince’s less famous brother, and Genies, a proposed prequel to Aladdin expanding on the mythology behind the Genie character.
For the record: The original Snow White & Rose Red involves two sisters who agree to shelter a talking bear in their mountain cabin during a particularly bitter snowstorm. Later, they aid the same bear in defeating a troublemaking magical dwarf who’d bedeviled them both during the intervening months, ultimately discovering the bear to be a prince transformed by the dwarf’s curse. It is unclear how much of that story (beyond the names) will be incorporated into the Disney film.
We’ll bring you more information on Rose Red as it becomes available.