July 23, 2011 6:06pm PT by Borys Kit
Comic-Con 2011: Universal Takes Lead in Battle of Snow White Movies As 'Huntsman' Panel Impresses
Now it’s on, people!
The game of one-upmanship between Universal and Relativity over their competing Snow White movies ramped up at Comic-Con—and Universal now has the edge.
A day after Relativity released a first-look photo of Lilly Collins as Snow White in its untitled movie, Universal arrived in San Diego with a swath of character photos from Snow White and the Huntsman, including Kirsten Stewart holding a sword and shield as Snow White, Charlize Theron looking menacing as the dagger-wielding Evil Queen, Chris Hemsworth as the hunky Huntsman and Sam Claflin as a prince.
And while its movie doesn’t start production until August, Universal still made a big impression with a well-received presentation of test footage and director Rupert Sanders’ commercials to get audience excited.
All this compared to Relativity’s Comic-Con no-show for its Snow White, which has been in production in Montreal since June.
The panel began with Sanders, a noted commercials director making his feature debut on Snow White, as well as producers Joe Roth and Palek Patel, talking about the origins of their project. Roth said that after the $1 billion success of Alice in Wonderland, “to be in the big picture business, you have to come up with a big idea that is known across several generations and several languages.”
The fact that there are two Snow White features racing to theaters (Relativity’s is scheduled for release in March, Universal’s in June) quickly came up, and though Roth was respectful toward the other project, he (and Universal) quickly made moves to set their project apart.
“Our movie is on the scale of The Lord of the Rings, in terms of size, scope and appetite,” he said, promising a “tough, rough, active male-female picture.”
“From the pictures,” he continued, referring to Relativity’s Snow White, “the other looks like a softer version.”
Roth tried to soften the gap between release dates—Huntsman comes out June 1, 2012 while Relativity’s movie opens March 16. “We are 10 weeks apart. In the movie business, that is a lifetime,” he said.
The presentation then featured three Sanders-directed commercials —for video games Call of Duty and Halo 3 as well as Monster.com—which conveyed to the crowd that 1) the man can direct action and war scenes, 2) he can create fantastical worlds with strange characters and mean, dark settings.
After the cast, consisting Stewart, Theron, Hemswoth and Claflin, came on stage, Roth, Sanders and company unveiled a proof-of-concept reel that was initially presented to the studio when the moviemakers were selling the project.
Sanders said it was shot in three days, describing it as “down and dirty” and “more of stylistic piece.”
The footage revealed a beautiful princess in a forest surrounded by fauna, but it quickly became dark and fantastical as a monologue asked what kind of a person you would be when tested by evil.
Sanders’ footage surprised and impressed with its shots of a fairy emerging out of the blackbird’s breast and Snow White surrounded by trees that are part men (in a way that was much more human than the trees seen in Lord of the Rings). Two knights were shown clashing swords, one getting cut in half and disintegrating into a million pieces.
Sources have told THR the reel cost around $100,000 to produce, but it seems worth it because the footage clearly shows what kind of movie this Snow White project aims to be. The crowd left the panel believing this is something unique that might show audiences things they haven’t seen before.