After watching most of their summer sequels and branded pictures underwhelm audiences while original stabs like Inception and Despicable Me drew plaudits and profits, studios this week have a chance to get bold. I’m told that agencies have about 8 spec projects circulating. Two in particular have the town abuzz: a live action adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith macabre novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with Wanted helmer Timur Bekmambetov as its director and Tim Burton its producer; and Snow White and the Huntsman, a revisionist take on the fairy tale scripted by Evan Daugherty and produced by Alice in Wonderland‘s Joe Roth. Attached to direct is Rupert Sanders, who has been on a short list for many plum studio jobs including The Hunger Games and All You Need Is Kill, based on his reel of stylishly-directed commercials that include Microsoft’s Halo. Now, some studios claim they are out of development money and all of them have grown accustomed to making conservative spending decisions, but my bet is they will make an exception here and that both of these will sell in big deals possibly before the week is out. Word is both potential tent poles have offers already.
The Abe Lincoln yarn has had heat on it since Burton and Bekmambetov used their own money to option the book earlier this year. I’m told that it’s a large canvas re-imagining of the Civil War. Turns out Lincoln’s mother was killed by a vampire and a big motivation of his war effort is to crush the scourge of bloodsuckers and their slave-owning supporters. Burton and Bekmambetov are producing with Jim Lemley.
Snow White is taking advantage of a Hollywood fascination with public domain fairy tales sparked by the billion dollar grosses of Alice in Wonderland. There are several versions of The Wizard of Oz being developed at studios, and more than one revisionist version of the Snow White saga. Disney attached director Francis Lawrence and producer Scott Rudin to Snow and the Seven, which transplants the heroine to the world of Shaolin monks, who train Snow to take on evil forces in Hong Kong. We’ll know soon if the fairy tale Snow White and the Huntsman has a happy ending.