Julia Roberts as an evil queen. Famke Janssen as a hunted witch. Fairy tales are going grim(m).

Disney; Kimberly French

Once upon a time, there was a studio executive. And on one bright, sunny, beautiful day, that studio executive put on his magical thinking cap and came up with the grandest of ideas: “I’ve got it!” the handsome man said to his loyal assistant steed. “Let us tap into moviegoers’ hearts via nostalgia. Let’s bring to life the mystical, wonderful tales they heard as wee ones ready for respite in bed! And where, I say, is my coffee?” And so it began: The fairy tale movie trend.

So, after awhile, a Stardust came and went. Then an Enchanted, a conglomerate of every fairy tale of our youth, captured our hearts. Then an Alice in Wonderland collected more gold than a leprechaun could ever hope to see. And today, we see the casting of Julia Roberts in one of two Snow White projects, and Famke Janssen in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (which Paramount confirmed to EW). So you know what this means: This trend will carry on until the fat lady sings. You know, Strega Nona.

Now, I’m hardly complaining: The Princess Bride, a film that perfected the craft of fairy tale storytelling on the big screen, is one of my favorite films of all time. And, quite honestly, Snow White is way overdue for a new hairstyle. But, after Tim Burton’s dark fairy tale adaptation made bank, it seems filmmakers are becoming more attracted to the dark side of the tales — bringing them to the big screen, really, in the form they were originally written. Both The Brothers Grimm: Snow White and Snow White and the Huntsman are supposed to be more sinister versions of the tale, and Hansel & Gretel is pegged as an action film. (And as for Catherine Hardwicke’s upcoming Red Riding Hoodmy my, what angsty it has!) And while that excites a Brothers Grimm fan like myself — who’d love to see the original stories, bleak endings and all — represented in some form, I wonder how it will pay off for filmmakers. Ignoring a happily ever after does allow them more creative license to challenge themselves and the viewer, but in our own bleak world — where moviegoers like to blow off steam with Shrek and its many sequels — is it a gamble to reveal to audiences what really happens on the final page of a Brothers Grimm tale? (Sure, Burton’s gotten away with dark storytelling, but that’s because the director has spent a career perfecting films with a mixture of dark themes and levity. Seeing his movies, you never walk out feeling defeated or robbed of a happy ending.)

I say, go ahead, Hollywood: Continue developing fantastical tales with melancholy overtones. Bring to the big screen The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen created, with the title character (spoiler alert) committing suicide. Make an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s original version of The Adventures of Pinocchio, which ended (spoiler alert) with the puppet being hanged for various crimes. Create the Brothers Grimm version of Rumpelstiltskin, in which the gnome (spoiler alert) literally tears himself in half in a fit of anger. (Kind of awesome, right?) And I’m still waiting for Burton to take on the petrifying title character of Heinrich Hoffmann’s children’s book, Der Struwwelpeter. Really, any of these would be better than, funnily enough, the comedic 2005 film The Brothers Grimm.

Anyone else digging the trend of grim fairy tales? Hey, it worked for 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, right?

Read more:
Julia Roberts to play Evil Queen in ‘Snow White’
Who do you think should play Snow White?
Snow White is slowly taking over Hollywood
10 Disney Princesses: Ranking their Hairdos

Comments (19 total) Add your comment
  • Heather

    I’m very excited by the trend! I love the original stories and I always love a dark ending. I enjoyed when Supernatural did the fairy tale episode that had some people eaten by the end. I’m excited to see how these films turn out

  • Willa

    Now all we need is for Angelina to finally confirm her taking the title role of Maleficent and all will be good in the world.

    • Simone

      Oooo, That would SO kick all forms of @$$! Angie would Kill that role…get Rooney Mara to go blonde for Princess Aurora!

  • anya

    I’m glad people are finally starting to realize that fairy tales were not made for children and Disney movies bear no resemblance to the originals. two more *spoilers*;
    Snow White’s evil stepmother was actually the mother that gave birth to her. in some versions, Sleeping Beauty was raped by her prince before she awoke.

  • Willa

    Even with an edgier, grimmer (no pun intended) vision, there’s no way in hell any major Hollywood studio will greenlight a film about a prince who rapes her beloved before giving her the kiss that will awaken her.

    • Pink Lemonade

      Famke Jansen yes, Julie Roberts no. However, maybe Roberts will pull it off in a truly good performance.

    • Anna!

      In many versions where she’s raped, she’s not awakened by a kiss. She carries the baby (or twins) to term in her sleep, gives birth in her sleep, and is awakened by a baby sucking on her finger, which sucks the splinter of the spindle out of it.

  • Alyssa

    I love Fairytales. And you forgot Enchanted 2 is still coming. This all sounds intriguing. The only complaint I have is KStew as Snow White. NO WAY am I seeing that. If they are going for bad acting they will get it.

  • Kim E

    Der Struwwelpeter! That was on an episode of the Office. Dwight was telling the story to kids from the bring your child to work day, one of the best episodes. Gotta love Dwight:)

  • BrandonK

    Of course, there’s always “The Brothers Grimm”…you forgot to mention that ol’ chestnut.

    • Hannah

      “Really, any of these would be better than, funnily enough, the comedic 2005 film The Brothers Grimm.”?

      Last sentence of the second-to-last paragraph?

      • BrandonK

        Ah…ahem. Well, I guess I forgot to read that ol’ chestnut. And she’s absolutely right! :0)

  • AK

    As long as they’re all better than “Alice in Wonderland,” which was just a ridiculous waste of my time. But I think the “Red Riding Hood” adaptation looks interesting, so I’m willing to give this trend a second chance.

  • Mei

    Personally I cannot wait!! Right up my street… XD

  • SShelly

    The works of Jim C. Hines would make great adaptations. The heroines are a post marriage Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. But they’re not your kids princesses…..

  • Anissa

    Someone is doing a dark little mermaid…popwatch even did an article on it…


  • Liz Lemon

    I really hope they don’t butcher all my favorite childhood stories. All of these movies have the potential to be quite enjoyable if done the right way.

  • Elysia

    Well, there already is a darker take on The Little Mermaid headed to the big screen, no?


    Does anybody besides me really remember the ‘SNOW WHITE’ film with Sigourney Weaver?
    And somebody should really check out a comicbook series called “FABLES”,from the DC/VERTIGO label.
    It tells the story of fairy tale characters living our everyday world.It’s as humorous as it is frightening,but also very insightful.
    Film producers and writers should really check this comic series out before attempting to do this.
    They find some great ideas.

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