There are now two Universal-backed project - a modern reboot of The Mummy franchise and a new film set in the Snow White and the Huntsman universe - that are suddenly moving forward at a steady pace, after having looked all but dead for a while. Yesterday, we learned that the next Mummy movie has gained a new director in Alex Kurtzman, who is also serving as one of the chief architects for Universal's resurrected classic monsters universe; today, the aforementioned Snow White project has been dated for 2016, with the Mummy having been pushed back a couple months to give it more room for landing.
Many a person was shocked when the news emerged that Oscar-nominee Frank Darabont (writer/director of The Shawshank Redemption and creator of The Walking Dead TV show) is planning to direct a new Snow White film, based on a script devised from his original pitch. It turns out said project will actually be a prequel titled The Huntsman, which explains those earlier reports claiming that Kristen Stewart as Snow White will, at most, only cameo in the movie (if she shows up at all).
The Huntsman, according to the Universal press release, will "reveal how the fates of two characters, The Huntsman Eric and Ravenna, intersected before they met Snow White"; Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron are reprising their roles as Eric and Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman, respectively. Darabont is confirmed to be directing from his own script draft, though writers Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part III) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules) will still be receiving credit for penning earlier drafts. So far, The Huntsman is the sole new release scheduled for April 22nd, 2016, though that will surely change over the next two years.
Stewart, at one point, was prepped to reprise her role as Snow White in another film set in the Snow White and the Huntsman universe. However, it's not so surprising that Universal studio heads eventually decided to take the property in a different direction - taking advantage of Hemsworth's and Theron's box office pull, but dropping Stewart (bypassing any lingering bad publicity that the Twilight alum might bring, in the process).
As for The Mummy, that film has been moved to a June 24th, 2016 release date; no other blockbusters are claiming that launch pad right now (again, that'll for sure change). The project, which is officially described as being an "epic action-adventure," will see Kurtzman direct from a script by Jon Spaihts (the first writer on Prometheus) - who is also working on the script for Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange. Kurtzman, as it were, is also still attached to direct a comic book movie, Venom, but if that film does happen then it won't be for a while now.
Mummy, as mentioned before, is meant to be the springboard for a rebooted shared universe of monster films by Universal, but neither it nor Huntsman is a surefire slam-dunk at the box office - albeit, not necessarily for the same reasons. Even with that said, both projects have enough going for them right now - just in terms of the accomplished creative folk working behind the scenes - that it's possible that both could turn out to be winners, artistically and financially. Crazier things have happened, after all.
The Huntsman opens in U.S. theaters on April 22nd, 2016, followed a couple months later by The Mummy on June 24th.
Source: Universal Pictures