Snow White and the Huntsman's box office grosses in North America have been far higher than anticipated. Directed by feature-film newcomer Rupert Sanders, and starring Breaking Dawn Part 2's Kristen Stewart as Snow White, The Avengers' Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, Prometheus' Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Sam Claflin as Prince Charming, Snow White and the Huntsman was expected to earn between $30m-$40m on its first weekend out.
Instead, the $170m-budgeted SWATH pulled in a remarkable $56.25 million at 3,773 locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Another feat: Snow White and the Huntsman's grosses were bigger than the combined take of the next three films on the domestic box office chart: Men in Black III ($29.3 million), The Avengers ($20.27 million), and Battleship ($4.81m).
Additionally, SWATH's opening-weekend gross is the fourth biggest of 2012, behind only The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. After three days, Rupert Sanders' film is already no. 21 among 2012's biggest domestic box office hits.
Something else worth noting: without the advantage of 3D-inflating ticket costs, Snow White and the Huntsman averaged an impressive $14,910 per theater. Boosted by 3D surcharges, Men in Black III averaged $12,851 on its first weekend. Another 3D entry, Sam Worthington's adventure fantasy Wrath of the Titans averaged $9,438. On the other hand, as a result of weaker reviews and the lack of a ready-made fan base, SWATH fared much more modestly than Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games, a futuristic 2D adventure drama that averaged $36,871.
Now, comparing Snow White and the Huntsman to Tim Burton / Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million on opening weekend in March 2010) would be unfair because unlike Rupert Sanders' dark PG-13 rehash of the old Snow White story, Burton's PG fantasy targeted kids and their parents / guardians with enough cash to buy more expensive 3D tickets. An estimated 52 percent of those attending Snow White and the Huntsman on its opening weekend were 30 and older.
Kristen Stewart's Snow White vs. Russell Crowe's Robin Hood
A fairer comparison would thus be between SWATH and another Universal movie based on an old legend: Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe / Cate Blanchett's gritty, more adult-oriented Robin Hood, which debuted with $36.1 million at 3,503 locations in 2010. Note that Robin Hood cost a reported $237 million ($200m after rebates). It raked in $105.26 million at the domestic box office, in addition to a much healthier $216.4 million overseas.
Written by Evan Daugherty (Killing Season), John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), and Hossein Amini (Drive), in addition to Kristen Stewart (Snow White), Charlize Theron (Evil Queen), Chris Hemsworth (Huntsman), and Sam Claflin (Prince Charming), the SWATH cast includes Who Framed Roger Rabbit's Bob Hoskins, The Departed's Ray Winstone, Shrek the Third's Ian McShane, The Hunger Games' Toby Jones, and Vera Drake's Eddie Marsan.
In addition to: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' Lily Cole, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance's Vincent Regan, 28 Days Later's Noah Huntley, Shaun of the Dead's Nick Frost, and Salmon Fishing in Yemen's Rachael Stirling.
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Kristen Stewart / Snow White and the Huntsman picture: Alex Bailey / Universal Pictures.