The Curious Case of Kristen Stewart and the ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Sequel

By: Gary Susman / August 15, 2012

Besides the damage to her relationship with Robert Pattinson, to Rupert Sanders‘ marriage to Liberty Ross, and to her public image as America’s vampire-lovin’ sweetheart, did Kristen Stewart’s cheating scandal also quash her chances to appear in a Snow White and the Huntsman sequel?

Certainly, any on-set reunion between the actress and Snow White director Sanders would be, um… awkward? Painful? Disastrous? It’s no surprise Universal, the studio behind the franchise, might choose to avoid the unpleasantness and bad publicity. But would the studio choose between Stewart and Sanders by firing the star and keeping the director?

That’s the scenario suggested by more than one trade news report on Tuesday, suggesting that the franchise may go ahead without Stewart. But other trade reports dispute the notion that she was fired, since she was under no obligation to return.

Will Kristen Stewart appear in a “Snow White” sequel?

The assertion that Stewart was fired from the sequel first appeared Tuesday in The Hollywood Reporter, whose Kim Masters wrote of a potential sequel, “Kristen Stewart will not be invited to return if the follow-up goes forward.” Masters’ report said it was also unclear whether Sanders would return, though she cited an inside source who said he would. Screenwriter David Koepp, however, was also being let go, Masters wrote. The sequel, she said, would likely be a spinoff focusing on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character and would likely go before the cameras next July, when he’s free from his day job as Thor.

A related story by Mike Fleming at Deadline.com seemed to confirm the notion that any sequel to Snow White would likely be a Huntsman-centered reboot. Like Masters, Fleming reported that Koepp was no longer attached to the franchise. He added that Sanders and the film’s producers Joe Roth and Patak Patel were planning to collaborate on true-crime drama 90 Church, putting their potential participation in a Snow White sequel in limbo as well.

Since then, several reports have emerged that call Masters’ article into question, or at least its claim about Stewart. Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere quoted a Universal rep as telling him that the Reporter story was not accurate. “The studio is pursuing a Huntsman spinoff but exploring all options to continue the franchise. Nobody has ditched Kristen,” Wells quoted the studio rep as saying. “No directors attached, no decisions made other than to look at a Huntsman sequel/spin-off. [So] we’re exploring options to continue the franchise and no decisions have been made.”

The Los Angeles Times cites a source at Universal as saying that the studio is going ahead with a sequel centering on Hemsworth’s character. The paper also says Stewart could be invited back to appear in that film, though it doesn’t cite a source for that claim.

Mark Malkin at E! Online pointed out that Stewart couldn’t have been “dropped” from the follow-up (as the Reporter headline touted) because she was never contractually obligated to appear in a sequel. (Neither was Sanders.) “We don’t have to do it,” Stewart told E! in May, regarding a possible sequel. “That’s the coolest thing. There’s no pressure. But to be able to expand on this would be awesome.”

Masters’ report gave no reason for Stewart’s alleged dismissal, though she speculated that it had more to do with the expense of re-hiring Stewart, now one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, than with the bad publicity from the Stewart-Sanders scandal. (Similarly, Koepp is one of Hollywood’s top-earning screenwriters.) After all, Masters wrote, Universal spent some $170 million making the movie.

In fact, the studio probably spent tens of millions more marketing and distributing it, and while Snow White did earn $389.2 million worldwide, you have to figure that theater owners kept half of that, meaning that the studio earned only a modest profit. So it’s no wonder that, next time out, they’d want to cut costs. And right now, Hemsworth and Sanders are cheaper hires than Stewart. (At press time, Universal reps had yet to respond to Celebuzz’s requests for comment.)

Her hookup with Sanders does seem to have cost Stewart one movie job. Last week, she dropped out of the film Cali because, as Celebuzz reported, she is focusing her time and energies on trying to win Pattinson back.

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 UPDATE: (Wednesday, August 15, 4:00 p.m. EDT) Universal is now shouting from the rooftops to squash the Stewart-was-fired angle. Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley (and not some anonymous staff publicist) has issued a statement, saying, “We are extremely proud of Snow White and the Huntsman and we’re currently exploring all options to continue the franchise. Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.”

The key phrase there is “exploring all options.” That could mean any number of possibilities, including a Stewart-free sequel, a Sanders-free sequel, or no sequel at all. But right now, the studio wants it to be known that it hasn’t (yet) burned any bridges with Kristen Stewart.