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2012 was looking to be a major year for Kristen Stewart. Not only is the blockbuster franchise that launched her coming to a frenzy-inducing close with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2, but she was poised to launch a new one with the action-fueled fantasy flick Snow White and the Huntsman. And while the film was critically panned for its bland storytelling, it still drew audiences worldwide, earning more than $385 million globally. With grosses like that the pic seemed primed for a sequel, and in June Universal began discussing the matter with Snow White and the Huntsman's director, Rupert Sanders, bringing David Koepp (Zathura) in to script it. Then came July and with it some scandalous photos that revealed Sanders and Stewart had a less than purely professional relationship.
Since then, there's been speculation on the fate of Snow White and the Huntsman 2. With much of blame for the affair being pinned—however unfairly—on Stewart, there was a question if her box office drawing power could weather this PR nightmare. And if Universal did decide to proceed with a sequel, would they reteam Sanders and Stewart after all this? Well, according to THR, Universal is sticking by its star and director…for now at least.
With a budget of $170 million, Snow White and the Huntsman was a modest hit, but Universal seems certain that even in the wake of the Sanders/Stewart debacle they can pull a tidy profit with a sequel. And currently, Sanders is still attached to helm. However, while Stewart's contract commits her to second film, Sanders' does not. Meaning what was once a bargaining chip for a fatter paycheck is now an easy out to walk away from further media scrutiny.
Even with the studio's insistence that Sanders is still slated to direct, I can't imagine that will last. For one thing, his lackluster direction received the film's most resounding criticisms, and keeping him on board would make the eventual press tour an ongoing opportunity to bring up the pair's affair again and again. More likely, Universal is waiting for the scandal to blow over, so that talk of the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel won't fuel further negative talk about their committed leading lady. I suspect that after Breaking Dawn: Part 2 opens to huge numbers, Universal will quietly reveal Sanders has left the sequel—probably with the handy excuse of "scheduling conflicts"—and will pick someone else, who hopefully can find new life for the limply realized film world.