Well, here we are again – more adult-oriented fairy tale creeping into theaters for mass consumption.
I’ve noticed some differences between this second batch of fantasy faire and the forerunners. To see what’s different this time around, let’s take a look at the major changes to the media landscape that have occurred since the early dark fairy tales were released.
From a financial standpoint, the boom in popularity of adult fairy tale films can be directly attributed to the financial success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Despite some complaints from moviegoers and critics, the film grossed over $1 billon worldwide during its theatrical run.
This caught the attention of several studios, as they spotted yet another source of precious box office revenue. This led to what I like to call the “Snow White war,” as three films purported to be a more “mature” take on the Snow White story were announced.
Two of these films, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman raced to the box office, while Disney’s The Order of the Seven (originally titled Snow and the Seven) has lagged, and is still in development.
Mixed reactions for Mirror Mirror and critical praise of its darker counterpart proved that there was still money to be made in the “adult fairy tale” genre.
As a result, we began to see the emergence of fairy tale themed television series, such as NBC’s fairy tale themed detective show Grimm, ABC’s watered down knock off of the FABLES comic series Once Upon a Time and the not-so-impressive and directionless CW reboot of the Beauty and the Beast television series.
As we take a look at the new string of fairy tale films such as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack The Giant Killer, two things can be inferred.
First, we can see a bit more balance of humor and drama, something the Snow White films couldn’t quite accomplish with their very contrasted tones.
Second, while the first wave tried to keep themselves fairly accessible to younger viewers, these later films feel more along the lines of either being wannabe blockbusters, or Tarantino-styled satire. As a result, the films are more comedic while retaining a harsher edge.
As we see more studios scramble for more fairy tales, there’s no doubt that we’ll have a mix of well-crafted epics, mainstream popcorn flicks and tonally confused bombs. As they say in many unnecessary sequels to adventure films – here we go again.