Last week, Frank Darabont departed Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman follow-up/spinoff The Huntsman due to the old “creative differences” with the studio. At the time, it was reported that Universal already had a replacement director lined up and we’d be getting that announcement soon. Those reports were indeed valid, as today word surfaced that the studio has tapped VFX specialist and second unit director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to take over as the helmer of the Chris Hemsworth-fronted fantasy-action film.
Per THR, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan has signed on to direct The Huntsman. You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with Nicolas-Troyan’s name, but you’ve no doubt seen his work. He acted as the second unit director and visual effects supervisor on Snow White and the Huntsman, and also served as the second unit director on Disney’s Maleficent. He is also attached to direct the long-developing Highlander reboot.
It’s entirely possible that Nicolas-Troyan will prove to be an accomplished filmmaker, but I can’t shake the feeling that Universal just wants a director who will execute their vision—a movie by committee, if you will. Hiring a first-time filmmaker with a VFX background is about as far away as you can get from Frank Darabont, a writer first-and-foremost with a penchant for sticking to his guns creatively. I’m also not exactly enthused about this prospect given that the last time a studio hired a first-time filmmaker with a VFX background to direct a large-scale tentpole, we got Maleficent.
Nevertheless, The Huntsman will see Chris Hemsworth reprising his titular role from Snow White and the Huntsman, with Charlize Theron also poised to reappear as the villainous Ravenna. Kristen Stewart isn’t coming back, but Emily Blunt recently entered negotiations to take on the central antagonist role of Ravenna’s sister. The Huntsman is set for release on April 22, 2016.