EXCLUSIVE: Studios are relying heavily on sequels this summer, but the toughest thing to do is to introduce something new that launches a franchise. It looks like Universal has done that with Snow White And The Huntsman. I’m told that the studio is making all the moves that indicate another chapter is in the offing, and on a fast track.
Universal commenced David Koepp to write the sequel script, which Deadline revealed in late April might happen. The studio is now talking with director Rupert Sanders about a return, after he made his feature directing debut on the first installment. Sanders is interested; he had a great time making the first movie. But unlike most first time directors, he doesn’t have to come back. That’s because Snow White And The Huntsman was sold in an auction by CAA that included a presentation by Sanders of how he was going to shoot the film. Sanders was part of the package, as was producer Joe Roth, and that gave the agency leverage to make a much better deal than a first timer usually gets. The filmmaker is in demand now, but he hasn’t chosen his next film and a sequel might well be it. I understand that the actors in the film have options for two sequels, so that part of the equation shouldn’t be too difficult.
While there were plenty of potshots taken by journalists at Universal and its executives in expectation that Snow White and the Huntsman would suffer the same under-performing fate as Battleship, the film way outperformed its advance tracking for a $56 million opening weekend. It has continued to play during the week and has done $118 million worldwide. It still needs to perform in the next few grueling weeks, considering the film’s costs pegged at a reported $170 million, but there is an opportunity here to make a better film with the sequel. The first film got rushed when Relativity Media hired Julia Roberts and pressed ahead with Mirror Mirror. Relativity burned its bridges with Universal to rush out a film that wasn’t worth it, and Universal also hurried its film. Paying Koepp his fat fee (his franchise scripts include Spider-Man, Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible) indicates the studio will try to make the most of that opportunity, particularly with no reason to rush this time.