As predicted, Universal worked fast to fill the director’s chair on The Huntsman, its planned prequel to 2012 hit Snow White & the Huntsman. Following news that The Shawshank Redemption helmer Frank Darabont had exited the production, it has been announced that Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the second-unit director and visual effects supervisor on the first film, is signed to take the reins.
Nicolas-Troyan, who was Oscar-nominated for his work on the original, has many other credits to his name, including as second unit director on effects-heavy Maleficent. His past experience with the Huntsman property made him particularly appealing to Universal once Darabont abruptly departed over “creative differences.” The Huntsman will mark Nicolas-Troyan’s feature film directorial debut – though his name is attached to the Highlander reboot, his only past experience as a director is on a short called Carrot Vs Ninja.
Universal is pushing The Huntsman into production quickly, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the film will be a prequel, now that the studio has announced that it will focus on “how the fates of two characters, The Huntsman Eric and Ravenna, intersected before they met Snow White.” Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron are already signed to reprise their roles, while Kristen Stewart will not return. It’s suspected that The Huntsman will permanently move the franchise away from Snow White (Stewart) as a character, and that any future films will be led by Hemsworth.
Emily Blunt, who broke big as an action star with last year’s Edge of Tomorrow, is also in talks for the role of Ravenna’s powerful sister, the Snow Queen, though a deal has not yet been reached. Joe Roth is producing, with Palek Patel exec-producing, and Darabont penned the current draft of the script, working from earlier drafts by Craig Mazin and Evan Spiliotopoulos.
Universal will release The Huntsman in theaters on April 22nd, 2016, barring any further behind-the-scenes shake-ups.