The Comic-Con panel for Snow White And The Huntsman was an unusual one, because the film hasn't technically started shooting yet. Production begins in the UK in a couple of weeks, with Kristen Stewart as Snow White herself, Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, Sam Claflin as the Prince and Charlize Theron as the evil Queen. Still, that didn't stop us seeing a proof-of-concept reel that the director had put together to give his cast a taste of the film, nor pictures of everyone in costume.
Director Sanders, who's a veteran ads director but who's making his first feature with this project, explained how he got involved. "I actually wanted to do a war movie, but what excited me was creating a world on a massive scale. Our movie is full of battle scenes with explosions and black knights. But everyone knows this story, it’s part of who we are and it’s a very complex way of dealing with our mortality.
"It was a great opportunity to create large landscapes full of emotion. We all carry this story somewhere within us, and I think it’s great to give people an emotional ride as well as a visual ride. All my visuals come from trying to drive the emotion. To work from one of the classics is a great footing on which to embark and lose my cinematic virginity on this project."
Kristen Stewart explained why she decided to join up, "I wasn’t jumping at Snow White in advance, but this girl has an amazing ability to channel fear into energy. She’s the people’s leader and also not heavy-handed sincere; doesn’t let her heart cloud her mind but doesn’t let her mind stop things she feels strongly about. Also I get a sword."
Next we saw a sequence that Sanders had put together to explain to his cast what the film was. Shot in 3 days with a temporary cast and lifting a couple of wider shots from other films, it starts beautiful, with fairies in the forest and flowers and bright lights, but soon darkens. The trees have sort of skeletal monsters emerging from them, and there are people who dissolve into flocks of ravens and melt into a tar-like goo. There’s a wolf and a castle and a frozen girl kissed by a handsome prince.
There’s lots of running across mountains and knights leaping at each other. It looks more than a little Lord Of The Rings-esque, although that might be where Sanders sourced a few of the borrowed snippets to make this tone reel, and has a Legend-like ability to go from sweet innocence to something rather scary. It also looks a little Tarsem-y in places, which is ironic given that Tarsem is also planning a Snow White film (The Brothers Grimm: Snow White).
Incidentally, producer Joe Roth, having worked through the great Deep Impact / Armaggedon clash of 1998, isn't worried about that face-off. He said, "We found out that people who’d seen Deep Impact were MORE likely to see Armageddon. People are going to see a movie or they’re not. We’re ten weeks apart which in the movie business is a lifetime. Our movie, I like to think of, is on the scale of Lord Of The Rings, in terms of size and scope and appetite. I can’t speak to the other movie, but it seems like a softer version. People get hung up on this, but they don’t remember that Tom Hanks did the fifth body switch movie with Big."
We also saw these images of the cast in costume. Sam Claflin seems to be channeling his inner James Franco, hair slicked back. Chris Hemsworth claims to have dug up his costume from his back yard. Charlize Theron is probably just using that huge dagger to trim her nails; we’re sure there’s no sinister intent there. Finally, Snow White herself is in full armour, holding a shield with a bare white tree on it. Presumably she’s from Gondor. This also reinforces Stewart's claim that this is not a Snow who spends her whole time hanging out with tweety birds.
There was also a quick shot of the key cast who aren't here, the eight dwarves played by Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Bob Hoskins, Dave Legeno, Stephen Graham and Eddie Izzard.
Snow White And The Huntsman is due out next summer, so it's going to be a relatively short schedule for Sanders & co. On the bright side, this panel suggests that the cast are getting along well. When asked if they were on-set pranksters, the stars in attendance displayed the potential for good banter.