Kung Fu-Themed Snow White Tale, 'Order of the Seven', A Casualty of 'John Carter'
News came out yesterday that Disney has shelved their kung fu-themed re-imagining of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Titled Order of the Seven, the movie would have taken place in 19th century Hong Kong where a young woman found refuge from her wicked stepmother with seven martial artists belonging to an ancient order dedicated to vanquishing demons.
Hanna's Saoirse Ronan boarded Order of the Seven to play the Snow White character back in February, and effects guy Michael Gracey was to make his directorial debut with the movie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter's sources, work for the movie was still going on as late as last week before Disney shut the movie down. It was scheduled to shoot sometime this year.
Supposedly, Disney got cold feet over the movie's high budget in the aftermath of John Carter's $200 million writedown. A relatively unproven actress in the lead and a neophyte in the director's chair didn't help the movie's cause either.
Since the movie is made with an overseas audience in mind, it's is also possible that one of the reasons for the shutdown is because Disney failed to find a co-financier to shoulder the risk with them.
It's no great lost, really, but this move gives us hint of what is going on inside the movie studio.
What happened to Order of the Seven is not because of John Carter per se. It's because of the strategy executed by former Disney Studios chief Rich Ross when he took over for Dick Cook back in 2009.
Ross was very successful in running Disney's TV business, but, on the movies side, his lack of experience proved disastrous for the studio.
For one, he removed a lot of institutional knowledge from the company by firing experienced people in key positions and replacing them with inexperienced people. Then, Ross reduced the number of movies in production, which is probably his biggest error of all.
You see, no one can really predict how well a movie will preform until it's released. By cutting back the studio's output, he's actually exposing the studio to higher risk should one or more movies failed to perform as John Carter can attest.
Disney still hasn't found a replacement for Rich Ross, and the amusement company doesn't appear to be in a hurry to do so, but what happened during Ross' reign at the studio will be felt for a couple more years.