Snow White Avenges Battleship Loss for Universal
By John Hamann
June 3, 2012
It's the post-Memorial Day Weekend at the box office, and this frame's expensive and over-cooked release is Snow White and the Huntsmen, Universal's re-telling of the old school Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale. This one is not a bedtime fairy tale aimed at the truly young. It is a violent, sensual, tale aimed at older moviegoers. Would the more serious tone affect ticket sales? Would Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart bring the Avengers/Twilight fans out? Universal had a lot at stake with this $170 million production, as their other expensive early-summer release, the $209 million Battleship, was already sunk, and the studio is running out of entries for summer 2012.
Our number one movie of the weekend is Snow White and the Huntsman, the new Universal release starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and The Avengers' Chris Hemsworth. After only questionable results from Relativity's Mirror Mirror (the Julia Roberts release failed to earn $65 million domestically against an $85 million budget) and less than solid tracking for Snow White heading into the weekend, Universal executives must have been doing some serious hand-wringing as their $170 million production approached release. Spending $170 million on a film like this is insane in my mind, but Universal never backed down, investing big money in the marketing campaign and choosing a saturation-style release. Their bravado seems to have worked. Snow White and the Huntsman pulled in $56.2 million this weekend from 3,773 venues, giving the Universal product a venue average of $14,910. Considering that tracking was looking for what would have been a devastating opening at or around $30 million, the mood will be good on Monday morning in the Universal front office, as this one is no Battleship.
Snow White and the Huntsman opened at midnight Thursday in a handful of theatres, and was able to take in $1.4 million – slightly under Men in Black 3's $1.6 million, but it was out to a much lower number of midnight theatres. It turned that midnight success into a $18.9 million Friday ($20.3 million was reported on Friday, but $1.4 million came from Thursday midnights), a much better than expected Friday figure. That means that Snow White and the Huntsman had a weekend multiplier - weekend gross (without Thursday midnights) divided by Friday gross - of 2.98. That multiplier indicates that the film played well on the weekend as well as Friday.
Snow White received only a B Cinemascore, the same mark that Universal's Battleship received. Remember that Cinemascores are not the best indication of quality for a movie. The firm polls audiences on Friday night, and in this case, since the Kristen Stewart fan club come out for opening night, scores got skewed. On opening night, respondents lean more toward an actor than the film (Mike Myers' The Love Guru got a B minus. No, really, it did). Reviews were mixed at best. “All critics” at RottenTomatoes gave the film a 45% rotten rating with 77 rotten and 64 to the good. However the “top critics” gave the film a 62% fresh rating, with 24 reviews to the good, and 15 to the bad. Predicting legs on this is going to be murky-mirror work at best, but with Prometheus coming next weekend (pant-pant), I have a feeling it's going to get creamed by the "other" Charlize Theron flick in the next frame.