Those who've been following Screen Rant's coverage of the multiple Snow White movies currently in development may recall seeing the occasional (*ahem*) off-hand comment about Walt Disney Pictures planning to refashion the fairy tale as a martial arts epic, simply titled Snow and the Seven.
Perhaps in an effort to prove how serious it is about the project, the Mouse House has recruited Toy Story 3 screenwriter (and Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine scriber) Michael Arndt to rework the script for Snow and the Seven, which has been in development since 2002.
Heat Vision says that Francis Lawrence (director of I Am Legend and the upcoming Water for Elephants adaptation) has been onboard to helm the project for a while now, and that Natalie Portman may still sign on to play the famous princess-turned-warrior. Snow and the Seven would be another physically rigorous role for the Black Swan starlet, which means the pregnant actress (and likely soon-to-be-Oscar-winner) is out, assuming production begins in the near future.
Snow and the Seven shifts the scenery from the traditional unspecified European setting of the Snow White story to China in the 19th century. The tale now follows an Englishwoman (presumably still one with black hair and a pale complexion) as she returns to her homeland of Hong Kong for her father's funeral, and discovers that her stepmother is plotting against her life. She thereafter flees to the Chinese mainland and teams up with a pair of seven renegade warriors (insert The Seven Samurai joke of choice here), who offer her protection and train her to do battle in the martial arts.
Oscar-winning production designer John Myhre (Memoirs of a Geisha) has also been recruited to bring this fairy tale/period adventure to life. Half a dozen writers have already taken a turn at stirring the pot that is Snow and the Seven's script, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon (John Carter of Mars), along with Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover). Based off the collective backgrounds of those gentlemen and Arndt, it seems that the new Snow White pic is aiming to match the tone of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies - namely, a mix of stylish but serious action and humor to prevent the mood from becoming too dark.
While originality is always a coveted quality in Hollywood productions, the three upcoming Snow White features do at least sound quite different from one another. Besides Snow and the Seven, there's also Tarsem's The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, which promises to deliver a much more visually and thematically macabre version of the story (similar to the German siblings' original work), and Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman - a refashioning of the fairy tale as a coming-of-age venture more in vein of The Karate Kid than anything else. All three of these projects seem set to become a reality, so for moviegoers it's a matter of preference (or picking their poison).
There's no denying the talent of those working behind the scenes on Snow and the Seven, so perhaps the idea of mixing martial arts combat (and possibly some thrilling set pieces) with a princess fairy tale won't turn out to be as bizarre or inane as it reads on paper. Maybe.
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