Frank Darabont Exits THE HUNTSMAN; Emily Blunt in Talks to Play Villain

     January 17, 2015

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Alas, we won’t be getting a new Frank Darabont film next year after all.  The Shawshank Redemption director took a bit of a break from movies after 2007’s The Mist, going on to create and run The Walking Dead on AMC before being subsequently forced off that show in the middle of Season 2 owing to creative differences with the network.  He then went on to create and write TNT’s fairly entertaining but short-lived drama Mob City, which was canceled after one season.  Finally, last year, Darabont seemed poised to return to the world of film in a big way as he signed on to helm Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman spinoff The Huntsman, starring Chris Hemsworth.  He’s been developing the project and writing the script for nearly a year, but now word comes that Darabont has left the project because of, again, creative differences.

Hit the jump for more on Darabont’s exit and the status of The Huntsman, including a fairly major get in the casting department for the film’s villain.

emily-blunt-the-huntsmanDeadline broke the news that Darabont and Universal have parted ways on The Huntsman due to “creative differences”, though the split is described as amicable.  The studio is expected to move quickly in hiring another director (like, next week quickly), so it seems like this exit had been coming for a while.  It’s certainly a shame, as I was really looking forward to seeing what Darabont would do in the world of franchise tentpoles.

But at the same time that The Huntsman lost its director, it gained a castmember.  The Wrap reports that Emily Blunt is in negotiations to co-star alongside Hemsworth as the film’s villain, the sister of Charlize Theron’s villainous Ravenna character from the first film.  Apparently the story finds Hemsworth’s huntsman on a quest to find the magic mirror, which forces him to face his past and Blunt’s evil queen, who’s hell-bent on avenging her sister’s death.  Theron is poised to reprise her role in the film, which means we’ll likely be getting some extensive flashbacks that delve into The Huntsman’s backstory—something that was alluded to in director Rupert Sanders’ first film.

I found Snow White and the Huntsman to be, quite frankly, really boring.  My main interest in The Huntsman was Darabont’s involvement, but the possibility of Blunt taking on the role of an evil Snow Queen is admittedly exciting.  The actress absolutely shined this year in Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods, and an antagonistic turn in a major studio film seems like an interesting prospect.

The question now is, who will replace Darabont?  When Universal was originally looking for directors for the film, Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and Andres Muschietti (Mama) surfaced on the shortlist.  O’Connor is busy with Warner Bros.’ The Accountant, but Muschietti appears to be available.  However, he departed Universal’s The Mummy reboot over creative differences, so if Darabont and the studio couldn’t see eye-to-eye, Muschietti doesn’t appear to be someone who will sacrifice his vision in order to stay on the movie.

All signs point to Universal already having the replacement lined up, as The Huntsman’s April 22, 2016 release date remains intact and casting is still ongoing.  In light of his exit, though, I hope Darabont finds another project soon.  The guy’s been gone from multiplexes for far too long.

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