If you pour over Rupert Sanders’s rich collection of commercial work, you’ll see a consistent theme of art and imagination embattled with commerce. It also proves he can tell just about any type of story—from the jaw-dropping futuristic war scene from Halo ODST to the short, comically charming fable for Monster.com to bringing delicate, artful beauty to the creation a slogan for Absolut Vodka. So while film geeks and other trade-perusing industry outsiders may have been collectively scratching their noggins when Universal brought in Sanders to direct the epic Snow White and the Huntsmen as his first feature, those on the inside like producer Joe Roth and top Universal brass were betting it was the young, soft-spoken Londoner’s time to finally put his wide array of advertorial proven talents together. The gamble clearly paid-off: the reimagined Snow White epic opened at number one at the box office, made a cool hundred mill worldwide over its first weekend in release and generally thrilled audiences by reinventing a tale we had all grown up knowing by heart, yet somehow making it feel new. Sanders now finds himself on the less traveled by track of names like David Fincher and Michael Bay—top tier commercial directors who have risen to the top of the feature world, albeit in vastly different styles. What a difference a weekend in Hollywood makes. Sanders chatted with me a day after his debut film’s successful opening about the experience of making Snow White, making grown men look like dwarves, Charlize Theron and where, exactly, he comes from.
First-time Director Rupert Sanders Takes the Helm of Snow White and the Huntsman