Back in 2012, Snow White and the Huntsman overcame tepid reviews (read our take) to rein in a worldwide box office take of nearly $400 million. The continuing appeal of darker versions on well-known fairy tales and the popularity of stars Chris Hemworth and Kristen Stewart no doubt contributed to its success, and few were surprised when a sequel entered development at Universal.
Despite earlier reports that Stewart would reprise her role as the title heroine, we now know that the sequel will serve as a spinoff film more closely focused on Thor star Hemsworth. The Huntsman (as the film is now being called) already has a 2016 release date in place and was nearing a deal that would put Frank Darabont in the director's chair.
However, according to The Wrap, the filmmaker - best known for helming Academy Award-nominated dramas like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile - has dropped out, citing creative differences. He also wrote the current draft of the screenplay, and it's unclear if this will be rewritten once a new director boards the project.
In addition to Darabont, the reported director's shortlist includes Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) and Andres Muschietti (Mama). So don't be surprised if one of those names pops us as the frontrunner any day now, especially since Universal is expected to hire a director within the next week.
In other Huntsman news, Emily Blunt is in talks to join the cast as the vengeful Snow Queen and sister of Charlize Theron's character from the first film. This is a little confusing for a couple of reasons - first, Theron is expected to return for the film in a prominent role (she negotiated her salary up by $10 million), and second, last we heard this was supposed to be a prequel. Perhaps it's now both a prequel and a sequel?
Blunt recently delved into the world of fairy tales with the Oscar-nominated musical Into the Woods and has previously proven her mettle as an action star with impressive turns in sci-fi thrillers Looper and Edge of Tomorrow. In addition, Blunt's casting in The Huntsman - should it be made official - seems particularly fitting, since she appears destined to join Hemsworth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point (perhaps as Captain Marvel?).
While the loss of a filmmaker like Darabont might set The Huntsman back a bit in its journey toward production, the addition of a major star like Blunt could go a long way to making this sequel feel fresh to audiences that may have had a mixed response to its predecessor. After all, she's at the height of her popularity nowadays, especially among sci-fi/fantasy fans, and joining a franchise such as this will only help endear her to that fanbase.
Do you think Blunt is a good fit for The Huntsman, and who do you think should replace Darabont on the film? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts and suggestions.
The Huntsman hits theaters on April 22, 2016.
Source: The Wrap