Universal Moves 'Snow White and the Huntsman' Release Date to Beat Relativity's Snow White Movie

The Universal film will hit theaters in June 2012, less than a month before the competing project.
The Universal film will hit theaters in June 2012, less than a month before the competing project.

The race to bring a Snow White film to theaters has just ratcheted up.

Universal announced late Sunday that it is making a bold bid for Snow White supremacy, setting a June 1, 2012 release for its take on the classic fairly tale, Snow White and the Huntsman. The film will star Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth in the title roles. 

That date will likely not sit well with executives at Relativity Media, which previously nailed down the opening date for its tale, now untitled but formerly known as Brothers Grimm: Snow White, on June 29, 2012.  

The move is clear throwing down of the gauntlet, as Universal originally planned to release its movie in December 2012.

Both companies had been developing competing versions of the classic fairy tale, vying for top actors as well as production start dates.

Relativity was first on the Snow scene, picking up a script by Melissa Wallack in June 2010 and soon scoring a coup by landing Julia Roberts to play the evil queen. The project, a four-quadrant family adventure being directed by Tarsem Singh, has been casting throughout the winter and spring – Lily Collins is playing the title character, and Armie Hammer plays the prince — and was scheduled to start shooting before Universal’s project.

Huntsman, a revisionist take, was set up several months later, in late September, but came with a director, Rupert Sanders, and Joe Roth, the producer who began the industry’s obsession with fairy tales and classic kids stories with his billion-dollar grossing Disney movie, Alice in Wonderland.

The Unviersal movie scored a coup when it landed Twilight star Stewart to play Snow White in December. But the project floundered in the winter when the studio had trouble finding its Huntsman. Viggo Mortensen was in and out, several other actors circled, and it was only last week that Thor star Hemsworth signed on for the part. Charlize Theron is playing the queen, Pirates of the Caribbean co-star Sam Claflin is playing the prince.

Universal's Sunday announcement made no mention of the competing movie. The studio only said “adjustments to the production timeline” had facilitated the move.

“As Rupert and Joe were finalizing casting and preproduction of Snow White and the Huntsman, we realized that the ambitious and fully-formed world they had promised was blowing away all expectations,” said Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley jointly in the announcement.  “We’re thrilled that Universal will be bringing this singular version of a timeless story almost seven months earlier than anticipated.”  

Email: Borys.Kit@THR.com