EXCLUSIVE: Sensing a possible opening with Hugh Jackman because The Wolverine lost its director and a plan to shoot in Japan turned precarious, Universal Pictures has offered Jackman the huntsman role in Snow White and the Huntsman. The Rupert Sanders-directed film has Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron ready to star. Also, I’ve heard Universal is in talks with Hossein Amini to come aboard and do some script work on a project slated to begin production mid-September.
Whether Jackman accepts is unclear. Jackman would obviously have to be paid a premium to pump up the star power of a film that will reach theaters after its rival, Relativity Media’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White. That film has Julia Roberts playing the evil queen, but unproven thesps Armie Hammer and Lily Collins in the leads. Clearly, Jackman’s priority is his signature razor-clawed X-Men mutant hero. He has been very hands on developing The Wolverine with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, and he himself drafted Darren Aronofsky, who exited earlier this month. Jackman and the studio are just getting started on finding a replacement. I’ve heard names like Duncan Jones, director of the well-reviewed Source Code, and David Slade, the Twilight Saga: Eclipse helmer who was in the mix before Aronofsky got hired.
What makes Huntsman a possibility is that Fox doesn’t have to rush The Wolverine. The studio is bullish on this summer’s X-Men Origins: First Class to keep the franchise vibrant, and Fox has plenty of tent pole action for 2012. The studio has already slotted the Ridley Scott-directed Prometheus, the Timur Bekmambetov-directed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Ice Age 4. In addition, Japan is still sorting through the aftermath of its natural disaster, and a majority of The Wolverine was scripted to be shot there.
The huntsman role was vacated by Viggo Mortensen. While some reports attributed his exit to money, I hear different. Mortensen was prepping to start the Spanish-language film Todos tenemos un plan, and dropped out of Huntsman when a rewrite veered from what he had expected. He won’t finish the Spanish-language film until mid-August, and Huntsman starts shooting a month later. Who said it’s easy to juggle the pieces of tent poles?