Nothing came along to poison Snow White and the Huntsman. After a strong Friday launch, the Universal fantasy went on to earn an estimated $56.2 million from 3,773 locations over its first three days or almost as much as the rest of this weekend’s top five films combined. Meanwhile, Marvel’s The Avengers put another big feather (actually, two) in its cap: becoming the third highest grossing domestic and global release of all time.
|1||Snow White & the Huntsman||$56,255,000||$56.2|
|2||Men in Black 3||$29,300,000||$112.3|
|6||Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$4,600,000||$25.4|
|7||What to Expect When You’re Expecting||$4,430,000||$30.7|
|10||For Greater Glory||$1,800,000||$1.8|
Although it was a certainty that Snow White and the Huntsman would take first place this weekend, it was not clear until Friday night how decisive its win would be. Although tracking initially promised a debut of at least $50 million for the PG-13 fantasy, tracking has proved woefully inaccurate for the past two months or so (too high for Men in Black 3, too low for The Avengers). Perhaps recalling that Battleship had also been projected to debut north of $50 million (compared to the $25.5 million it actually earned), Universal cut its expectations for Snow White down to a more modest $38 million. Naturally, this turned out to be the weekend that tracking got it right: making Huntsman look like an over-performer and giving Universal its first good news since Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax dominated back in March.
Questionable tracking was just the latest issue for Snow White and the Huntsman. For almost a year the film has been the subject of box office speculation, due mostly to its position as the second of 2012’s Snow White adaptations to reach theatres. The first, Relativity’s Mirror Mirror starring Julia Roberts, was announced at about the same time as Huntsman – leading to a flood of articles that asked what a Snow White-saturated market would mean for both films’ bottom lines. In the end, of course, character overlap was not much of an issue. The PG-rated Mirror Mirror went for the family market, earning a total of $62.5 million during its domestic run while Snow White earned almost as much in just three days.
The question, as always, is how well Snow White and the Huntsman will play over time. The film is currently rated just 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and is looking at a challenge next weekend in the form of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Though rated R, the sci-fi thriller’s initial overseas launch apparently dwarfed that of Snow White in territories like the UK this weekend. International estimates have not yet been released, but Universal is expecting around $40 million from Huntsman’s 45 overseas markets.
Like in 2011, when X-Men: First Class led the box office with its $55.1 million opening, Snow White and the Huntsman was the only wide release of the weekend. Even so, this year will fall short of last year’s grosses, thanks largely to lackluster holdover titles. This allowed Arc Entertainment’s For Greater Glory to sneak its way onto the top ten with an estimated $1.8 million from 757 locations. Men in Black 3 actually had a decent hold, down just 46% according to estimates. After ten days the film has earned $112.3 million; that’s $3 million less than Men in Black II made over the same period back in 2002… not adjusted for inflation.
Of course the biggest holdover news this weekend came from Marvel’s The Avengers. As expected, the film surpassed the $533.3 million total of 2008’s The Dark Knight to become the third highest grossing film in US history. At the same time, the superheroes also became the third highest grossing release worldwide, passing the $1.328 billion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with its new global cume of $1.355 billion. And that’s as high as The Avengers will climb, I’m afraid. Any higher means overtaking Titanic and Avatar and that would require an act of God… or James Cameron.