While Universal and Relativity jockey over their rival Snow White movies, Disney is quietly making moves on its own revisionist Snow White feature, a live-action project now called The Order of the Seven.
Commercials director and visual effects wizard Michael Gracey has been chosen as the man to helm what is being envisioned as China-set epic. Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend), who was attached to the project for several years, has moved on.
Andrew Gunn is producing the movie, which earlier this year got a refurbished script from Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt.
The unique project, which Disney has been developing since 2002, focuses a bit more on Snow’s seven companions, who aren’t as cute and jolly as in the 1937 classic Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, the project, which was initially known as Snow and the Seven and had scripts by writers ranging from Michael Chabon to Jayson Rothwell, is evolving into more of an original action film, with the Snow White elements being minimized.
In this iteration, the seven are a 19th century-set disparate band of international warriors belonging to a centuries-old order who have lost their way. Their meeting with an Englishwoman being chased by an ancient evil is the catalyst for their redemption.
While the project is set in China, the warriors will be from locales near (the U.S.) and far (Russia), and each warrior will have a unique fighting style.
Gracey was an animator at Animal Logic, the company that worked on Happy Feet, before teaming up with a fellow visual effects artist to embark on a commercials career that led to award-winning spots for T-Mobile and Lipton.
Sources say that Gracey’s next step, after completing a deal, will to begin storyboarding the movie while designs of characters are made and fights are choreographed. The plan is to start production start next year. Gracey is repped by CAA, Partizan and Hirsch Wallerstein.
Relativity’s still-untitled Snow White film, starring Lily Collins as Snow and Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, is scheduled to be release on March 16. Universal’s grittier Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, will hit theaters on June 1.