Putting a non-existent end to the non-existent box office slump, Snow White and the Huntsman (review/trailer/essay) topped the weekend box office with a pretty strong $56 million. After the flop that was Battleship, Universal is somewhat relieved that the next of its 'let's make overpriced fantasy tentpoles like every other studio' entry might actually make a small profit in the end. With about $39 million in overseas grosses, the film has amassed $95 million in its first three days of worldwide play. Alas the film cost $175 million to produce (and who-knows what to market), so this is another situation where a major picture is praying for $400 million worldwide just to break even. That's obviously not healthy, but the opening is still a darn-good one. It's the second-biggest 2D opening of the year behind The Hunger Games and the fourth-biggest debut of 2012 behind The Avengers ($207 million), The Hunger Games ($153 million), and The Lorax ($70 million).
Powered by Kristen Stewart fans, the film's debut points to the fact that Ms. Stewart may be a genuine movie star (Charlize Theron adds class and prestige, but she's never been 'box office'). Yes the red-hot Chris Hemsworth didn't hurt either, but this movie, sans 3D uptick, basically sold about as many tickets on its opening weekend (7.1 million) as Thor did last May (8.1 million) with no competition. Since the Twilight series began, Stewart has done a number a smaller indie films (Adventureland, The Runaways, etc.) but this was her first big-studio box office test. The film earned a B from Cinemascore, but also had a strong 2.8x weekend multiplier (its grosses went up slightly on Saturday). It played 53 percent female and 52 percent 30 years old and older. We'll know more about the long-term prospects next weekend, but Stewart's agent will be very happy this morning no matter how much first-time director Rupert Sanders was allowed to overspend (he allegedly ran a right ship; it's not his fault Universal gave him too much money). Either way, it's success in the shadow of John Carter and Battleship's failure is more evidence that female-driven tentpoles can succeed despite conventional wisdom.
Snow White and the Huntsman was the only new wide release, but there were a handful of smaller debuts. Debuting in 86 screens, Weinstein Company dumped Piranha 3DD and the results showed as much. The film pulled in $179,000 for a mediocre $2,000 per-screen average. However, the film was also available on Video On Demand. Considering the temptation to just pay $10, invite a bunch of friends over for beer and chips, and watch it at home, I'm frankly shocked that the film did as well in theaters as it did. Anchor Bay's stoner comedy High School earned just $400 per each of its 200 screens. Debuting on 575 theaters, the Mexican historical drama For Greater Glory earned about $1.7 million for the weekend. The big international debut this weekend was Ridley Scott's 'not an Alien prequel' Prometheus (review), which earned a mighty $35 million in 15 international markets. It opens in 35 more places, including America, next weekend. Fox is reporting that a huge majority of the sales were in the 3D format, with 73 percent of the UK grosses coming from 3D. So for those wondering why Paramount chose to convert G.I. Joe: Retaliation to 3D (essay)...
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