Weekend Box Office: Snow White And The Huntsman Bucks The Weak Opening Trend; The Avengers Continues To Break Records

Milk does the body good.

Did Universal pull a rope-a-dope this weekend by underselling the tracking numbers of Snow White and the Huntsman? Because while the advertisements were definitely geared for the female demographic, young adult males were more than willing to fly solo or go with a date to see Kristen Stewart yield a sword and Chris Hemsworth an ax. Registering a $56.3 million opening, Snow White doubled the numbers that Universal’s Battleship raked in when it opened three weekends ago. This is good news for the studio, because it was sweating this release hoping to not sink like Peter Berg’s big, alien boat-sinking movie. And in the battle of the two Snow White movies this year (Mirror Mirror being the other one), Huntsman‘s opening almost matched Mirror‘s total domestic earnings of $63 million.

The big winner in all this has to be Chris Hemsworth, who has starred in a string of box office hits that opened to $55 million or more during their opening weekends. This does not include the mishandled horror release The Cabin in the Woods which has only made $41 million overall. Granted Thor and The Avengers sort of get lumped together with the Marvel Studios brand and all. Charlize Theron as the evil queen is relevant again as an actress in a strong supporting star capacity after starring in that rare Jason Reitman misfire, Young Adult last year. Her presence will be diminished in the upcoming Prometheus release from Ridley Scott, but she will be in franchise mode in the coming years working on the long-awaited Mad Max sequel from George Miller and possibly a second Hancock movie.

As for Kristen Stewart’s profile it also gets raised. She had been overshadowed by the likes of Dakota Fanning in The Runaways, and the ’80s nostalgia trip Adventureland failed to connect with audiences. Snow White is proof that Stewart can open a film if it is of blockbuster quality, but she still has yet to attain that wow factor of someone like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. Not helping her situation is the adamant disdain fans of the Twilight novels have for her as the choice to play Bella.

Dropping to second was Men in Black 3. It has passed that once-celebrated monetary marker for grossing over $100 million, but with a production budget ballooning to $250 million and P&A costs, it still has a way to go before Sony Pictures can call this third entry a box office success. Chances are slim that we’ll see MiB4 and that’s fine by me.

So this Avengers movie – perhaps you’ve seen it. In five weeks it has outgrossed all movies not directed by James Cameron. What’s impressive is that five weeks into its release it can earn $20 million over a weekend. Most non-blockbuster type films would kill to have a first weekend gross like that. With $1.355 billion earned worldwide (and counting), it is both the #3 domestic earner and international grosser of all time. It won’t catch Avatar or Titanic but that’s okay. Because its performance thus far will ensure that Joss Whedon can afford to have a spotless mind procedure and forget he ever wrote Alien: Resurrection.

Beyond the blockbusters there are small success to be found. The British comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has surpassed $100 million worldwide with domestic receipts account for $25 million and change. When it comes to small arthouse releases, you have to know when to expand. You move too fast and the buzz dies quickly. You have to let the word of mouth carry a bit before moving it to more theaters. And Fox Searchlight is a studio that gets it right (see Little Miss Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire) more often than not (see Win Win). As someone who champions small- to mid-size releases that find an audience and take off, films like Marigold Hotel, Chronicle and Screen Gems’ double threat of The Vow and Think Like a Man are worth appreciating purely weighing the numbers of cost versus success.

The rest of the top ten is just taking up space, to be replaced by new releases coming up. The Dictator was meant to be a success on home video, not in theaters. And I’ve already talked about Battleship already. Dark Shadows is still limping along to the tune of $71 million, while new release For Greater Glory made it into the top ten playing in only 757 theaters. As for the hit of the spring, The Hunger Games is just $1.9 million away from eclipsing $400 million domestic. Are the odds in their favor of surpassing that milestone?

In limited release, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom continues its impressive box office success. Having already set a record for the all-time highest per-screen average in movie history last weekend, this weekend it expanded from 4 to 16 screens and finished with a per-screen average of $53,063, easily the top performer on a screen by screen basis. Piranha 3DD was unceremoniously dumped into theaters prior to its DVD release and even with 3D pricing it could only muster $179l at 79 theaters. And for those who have been anticipating that long delayed pot comedy High School with Adrien Brody, well it played at 200 locations with a per-screen return of $403. Let’s just say thought of profits have gone up in smoke.

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Source: Box Office Mojo