Seeing how Disney expects to suffer a $200 million loss on John Carter, it's no wonder the Mouse House has begun tightening its belt - and intends to scrutinize the budget for every film it has in development.
As a result, the company has halted pre-production on Order of the Seven. That project has previously gone by a handful of different names (including, Snow and the Seven and Order of Seven), but remains best known as Disney's Snow White-inspired martial arts epic.
Most people tend to roll their eyes at the idea of another retelling of Snow White - which is understandable, after Mirror Mirror and next month's Snow White and the Huntsman. However, Order of the Seven has been in some form of development for more than a decade.
The project was initiated by producer Andrew Gunn (Freaky Friday, Race to Witch Mountain) and was originally meant to be, as Heat Vision puts it, "a live-action kung fu take" on Snow White. That plan changed over the years as the script eventually evolved into a standalone fantasy adventure, after being worked on by such people as Michael Chabon (John Carter), Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), Hangover co-writing duo Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, Jayson Rothwell (Second in Command), newcomer Michael DeBruyn - and, most recently, Iron Man co-writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.
Order of the Seven had originally been envisioned as a Natalie Portman vehicle. Earlier this year, though, Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Hanna) was set to headline the film as a young 19th century Englishwoman who flees Hong Kong, in order to escape "an ancient evil empress" - and, thereafter, seeks refuge with "seven men belonging to an ancient order dedicated to fighting demons and dragons" (as was to be played by an all-star cast of international martial arts sensations).
[caption id="attachment_154439" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="Saoirse Ronan is attached to star in Disney's 'Order of the Seven'"][/caption]
Although Order of the Seven had technically not been greenlit, the film was slated to begin production this summer - under visual effects supervisor Michael Gracey's direction. Disney has halted all development work on the project, reportedly due to concerns over the budget (which is being kept under wraps).
Last year, Disney likewise hit the brakes on its Lone Ranger movie over concerns about the spiraling costs. However, whereas that western managed to get back on track fairly quickly - thanks in no small part to highly-bankable star Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski being attached - the personnel connected to Order of the Seven aren't enough to ensure such a fast recovery. Hence, unless the budget is reworked to earn the approval of Disney heads, this project may continue to run in circles - similar to Ron Howard's Dark Tower movie and Warner Bros.' live-action Akira remake.
That would be kind of disappointing, seeing how Order of the Seven was starting to sound more interesting. Then again, given how long it's lingered in development - and the number of people who've worked on the script over the years, this could've been (or still may be) the next Cowboys & Aliens - for better or worse.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Order of the Seven as the story develops.