Thursday, February 2, 2012

A tale of two Snow Whites

Once upon a time, Hollywood apparently ran out of ideas.

Actually, sometimes it seems that happens on a regular basis.

In this case, it’s in the form of dueling Snow White movies.

The first, called ‘Mirror Mirror,’ stars Julia Roberts as the evil queen, ‘The Blind Side’ actress Lily Collins as Snow White and ‘The Social Network’ wonder twins actor Armie Hammer.

Directed by Tarsem Singh, ‘Mirror Mirror’ looks to have a Disney feel about it. With Roberts and Nathan Lane hamming it up in the trailer, it looks more goofy than anything else. Of course, this will probably appeal to the ‘Twilight’ crowd – a group that prefers style over substance.

Since the second movie, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman,’ actually stars ‘Twilight’ actress Kristen Stewart, though, fans are bound to be torn.

Based on trailers and photos alone, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ looks to be the better movie. It has a stronger cast with Stewart, Charlize Theron as the evil queen, and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman.

It also looks darker than ‘Mirror Mirror’ – by a long shot – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will appeal to a broad audience.

I mean, look at last year’s ‘Red Riding Hood’ – a stylized update that had bright flashes of color in a very dark world. The movie did solid if unspectacular business. It never did generate a lot of buzz, though.

Fast forward to ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ – which premiered this fall to an excited and relatively large audience. While not the biggest hit of the season, it is the one getting the most accolades and attention.

Now, all of a sudden, fairy tales are fashionable again – which makes the prospect of two Snow White movies less of a risk.

So which one will take box office glory?

It’s really hard to tell.

‘Mirror Mirror’ recently had their release date moved back two weeks to March 30 by movie studio Relativity Media. Essentially, this cuts the time between the two movies to nine weeks instead of 11.

If I had to guess, Relativity Media is banking on the fact that viewers will go to the first movie and forgo the second one. Or at least that is what they’re hoping for.

The problem with that logic is the casting.

Collins and Hammer are not well known (or well liked in Hammer’s case) and their fan bases aren’t really motivated groups.

Stewart and Hemsworth are exactly the opposite. Both have vocal (and large) fan bases that will follow them anywhere. Plus, since it’s coming out on June 1, that will coincide with when a lot of kids are getting out of school.

Relativity Media has called their movie a family comedy. On the flip side, Universal is marketing ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ as a gritty medieval thriller with really pretty people doing battle.

Both studios say they don’t believe their audiences will overlap – but that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water. These are two Snow White movies, after all, there has to be some form of overlap.

Relativity has said that they didn’t change the ‘Mirror Mirror’ debut because of that “other Snow White film” -- but to take advantage of the Easter holiday. That could be true, but I think pretending both production companies aren’t posturing would be stupid.

Other analysts have said that they think Relativity is moving ‘Mirror Mirror’ away from the ‘21 Jump Street’ debut – but since that movie has almost no buzz I don’t believe that’s true either.

Back in 1998, the summer of the asteroid was upon us and we had both ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Armageddon’ come out within months of each other. ‘Deep Impact’ was the better movie and ‘Armageddon’ had the better buzz. Both movies grossed more than $300 million in box-office worldwide – so there is a chance that both Snow White movies could do well.

There’s also a chance one of them could bomb or both of them could bomb. Given the super hero overload that will be in theaters this summer – both production companies are smart to try and market something towards girls – I just wish they hadn’t marketed the same fantastical heroine.

Either way, I’ll probably see both movies. However, I’ll catch ‘Mirror Mirror’ when it comes to On Demand and I’ll see ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ in theaters. While I find Stewart morose and withdraw, I do like Theron and Hemsworth. Plus, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is clearly the more serious of the two films.

What about you? What version of Snow White are you most looking forward to?


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