Sunday, June 3, 2012

Weekend Report: 'Snow White' Takes Big Bite Out of Box Office Apple

Any worry that Snow White and the Huntsman would only appeal to young girls wound up being completely unfounded—the revisionist fairy tale played well across all demographics, and easily claimed the top spot at the box office this weekend. MIB 3 and The Avengers did fine business in second and third, while Mexican historical drama For Greater Glory wasn't all that great in its nationwide release. The Top 12 earned an estimated $135.5 million this weekend, which is off 12 percent from the same period last year.

Snow White and the Huntsman opened at 3,773 locations and grossed a strong estimated $56.26 million. That's the fourth-highest debut this year behind The Avengers, The Hunger Games and The Lorax, and above last weekend's MIB 3. It's also more than Universal's Battleship has made through 17 days ($55.1 million), and is close to previous Snow White movie Mirror Mirror's entire run ($62.5 million). Among other comparable titles, Snow White obviously didn't come close to Alice in Wonderland's $116.1 million, though it was a hair ahead of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($55 million) and crushed Universal's Robin Hood ($36.1 million), which was also a grittier take on a classic story.

The stars aligned nicely for Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend. The first major advantage it had was lack of competition: MIB 3 has been doing solid business, but it isn't all-consuming, and the May 18 releases (Battleship, The Dictator and What to Expect When You're Expecting) combined for a meager $14 million this weekend.

That being said, Snow White's biggest asset was Universal's savvy marketing campaign. Initial previews emphasized the impressive visuals while alluding to the classic fairy tale story, which piqued interest in the project early. Closer to release, Universal made a concerted effort to get men out to a movie with "Snow White" in the title by unleashing the "This is No Fairy Tale" set of ads that played up the darker, revisionist nature of the movie. That was a risky move—Lionsgate got punished last month for trying to get men interested in an ensemble pregnancy comedy—but men wound up accounting for a very solid 47 percent of Snow White's attendance this weekend.

Perhaps more surprising, though, is that the audience skewed older (52 percent were 30 years of age and up), meaning Snow White had true four-quadrant appeal. It does remain unclear if Snow White will hold up well in coming weeks, though: it received a middling "B" CinemaScore, and there are some very competitive titles (Prometheus, Rock of Ages, among others) on the way.

MIB 3 fell 46 percent to an estimated $29.3 million in its second weekend. That's actually a very strong hold for a sequel coming off a Memorial Day opening: in comparison, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian both dropped 55 percent in their second weekends. The movie has now earned $112.3 million, which is a tad off from Men in Black II's $115.6 million 10-day total.

The Avengers dropped 45 percent to an estimated $20.3 million, which is the fourth-highest fifth weekend ever behind Avatar, Titanic and The Sixth Sense. On Friday, the superhero team-up passed The Dark Knight ($533.3 million) to move up to third place on the all-time domestic chart, and on Sunday it passed $550 million in a record 31 days (it took Avatar 38 days). To date, The Avengers has earned $552.7 million, and it's still on pace for around a $600 million total.

Battleship took another big hit this weekend, plummeting 57 percent to $4.8 million. Its 17-day total reached $55.1 million, which is off from John Carter's $62.4 million through the same point.

The Dictator fell 49 percent to $4.7 million for a total of $50.8 million. It could still pass Bruno's $60.05 million, but it's definitely not taking the trophy for first R-rated comedy hit of Summer 2012.

In sixth place, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel dipped 28 percent to an estimated $4.6 million, and has now earned $25.5 million. What to Expect When You're Expecting wasn't far behind with $4.4 million (off 38 percent) for a weak total of $30.7 million.

For Greater Glory debuted at 757 locations this weekend and grossed an estimated $1.8 million (good for 10th place). That translates to an unremarkable $2,378 per-theater average, and the movie will be lucky to get anywhere close to $10 million by the end of its run.

Moonrise Kingdom expanded to 16 locations and moved up to 13th place with an estimated $849,000. It put up an outstanding $53,063 per-theater average, and has now earned $1.7 million. Focus Features is going to continue with a gradual platform release next weekend when it adds 10 additional markets and reaches a total of roughly 70 theaters.

The Intouchables moved in to 50 locations and earned $350,000. That's a not-great $7,000 per theater, and it will be interesting to see if The Weinstein Company forges ahead with an aggressive expansion after this middle-of-the-road result.

Speaking of The Weinstein Company, Piranha 3DD debuted to $179,000 at 86 locations for a terrible per-theater average of $2,081. The movie's financial success, though, isn't primarily rooted in its theatrical performance—it was also released day-and-date on video on demand (though, of course, those viewing at home can't get the full 3DD experience).

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