At this point, watching the development of The Huntsman has become something of a sport. The sequel to 2012’s phenomenally successful Snow White And The Huntsman is now a case-study in what can be achieved when Universal has the commitment of two stars, a confirmed release date, and then just holds on tight.
When the first film opened to great fanfare and financial success, the idea of a sequel was immediately and predictably bandied about. The main cast – Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron – was on board and happy to return. Then came a wave of high profile controversy surrounding Stewart and the film’s director, Rupert Sanders – which led to both of them stepping away from the project. But, with Hemsworth and Theron still attached, a release date was set for April 22nd 2016, and attentions turned to the development of a screenplay, without Snow White in it.
None of the writers involved in the original – Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini – would be returning. Instead, The Huntsman script has been written and shaped by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules), Craig Mazin (Identity Thief) and David Koepp (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), with Frank Darabont being hired to take it across the finish line. Darabont was also tapped for directorial duties, but then walked away from the film, due to “creative differences.” It is reported that the studio has now promoted from within the production, setting Academy Award nominated VFX supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to helm the movie.
The latest development in The Hunstman saga concerns the dwarves, or lack thereof. The magical characters were a particular highlight of Snow White And The Huntsman, and were played by an astonishing group of actors – including Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Ian McShane and the late Bob Hoskins. The Huntsman, however, will only feature two dwarves. According to Deadline, neither Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan nor Toby Jones will be returning to their roles, and the production has not confirmed which dwarves – and therefore which performers – will ultimately be featured.
The current state of play, then, in this long-running game of ‘cash-in, whatever it takes,’ is that a Chris Hemsworth movie named The Huntsman will be released on April 22nd, 2016, also starring Charlize Theron and two dwarves. It may also feature Emily Blunt in a villainous role, as the actress is reportedly in talks to appear – but with this production, it seems all bets are off until it actually makes it to the screen.