Your move, Relativity.
In a classic studio chess maneuver, Universal Pictures has switched its “Snow White and the Huntsman” from Dec. 21 to June 1, 2012, leapfrogging it four weeks ahead of Relativity Media’s take on the fairy tale.
When the competing pics were first dated, Relativity’s “The Brothers Grimm: Snow White,” directed by Tarsem Singh (“The Cell”) and starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, had a six-month headstart on Universal.
But with U signing “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth to play the huntsman — as Variety first reported — and Kristen Stewart locked as Snow White, the studio offered Relativity a poisoned apple, swapping dates with Judd Apatow’s untitled comedy, which will take the December slot.
Studios have a history of bumping over similarly themed pics, and have scrapped projects when a rival studio gets off the line quicker (Baz Luhrmann’s “Alexander the Great” was canned after Warner Bros.’ “Alexander” came first, for example). In some cases, they play second fiddle (“Infamous” was overshadowed in the wake of “Capote”), while in others, rival projects have gotten room to run on their own, as did DreamWorks’ “Deep Impact” and Disney’s “Armageddon” in 1998.
In any case, Relativity now has a big decision to make.
Its “Snow White” is expected to begin production very soon, and could easily move up its release date to sometime in May. But it could also choose to keep its June 29 slot, as the competing projects are tonally different: “Huntsman” is a dark actioner, while Relativity’s is a lighter, more family-skewed romp.
Because of those differences, execs and insiders on both pics insisted they weren’t considering one another’s projects when making production and dating decisions.
That changed sometime before Sunday, when U made clear it wants auds to consider its “Snow White” first. Which they will … for now.