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Kristen Stewart Dropped from 'Snow White' Sequel Plans (Exclusive)

Universal reconceives the follow-up to focus on Chris Hemsworth's character as writer David Koepp exits.

Universal has decided to shelf its planned Snow White and the Huntsman sequel and is instead focusing on a solo Huntsman movie starring Chris Hemsworth. Kristen Stewart will not be invited to return if the follow-up goes forward.

PHOTO: Snow White and the Huntsman Starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the sequel to June's Snow White, which starred Stewart, Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, is being reconceived as a spinoff movie. It's unclear whether director Rupert Sanders will return, though one source with ties to the production says he will. However, screenwriter David Koepp, who had been hired to pen the continuation of the original film, is being settled out of his rich contract, according to sources, as the project is being transformed into something other than the movie that Koepp had been hired to write. 

"The studio is currently exploring options to continue the franchise," a Universal spokeswoman says.

The move comes in the wake of Stewart, 22, and the married Sanders, 41, apologizing publicly for a romantic affair after compromising photos of the duo were published in July. (Stewart was dating her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson.) While it might have been awkward for Stewart and Sanders to reunite for a sequel, it is not clear why the decision to move forward without Stewart was made.

It is highly unusual for Hollywood studios to drop stars of franchises between the first and second installments. The original plan, according to sources, was to make two films featuring the Snow White character and a third film spinning off the Huntsman, similar to how Fox's X-Men series has spun off Wolverine.

PHOTOS: Kristen Stewart Vs. Lily Collins Projects: Anatomy of a Snow White Smackdown

It's far from clear whether a Snow White follow-up will ever get made. The movie was a modest hit for Universal, grossing $389.2 million worldwide on a budget of about $170 million. But Stewart, one of Hollywood's top stars thanks to the Twilight franchise, commands a hefty salary. Declining to pick up her option would shave millions from the budget of a second movie.

Universal is looking for a new writer, and insiders hope to start filming in July when Hemsworth, who also stars in Marvel's Thor series, becomes available.

Borys Kit contributed to this report.

E-mail: Kim.Masters@thr.com

Twitter: @KimMasters