'Snow White and the Huntsman' Box Office Profitable?

Snow White and the Huntsman budget Kristen StewartSnow White and the Huntsman budget recovered? (Image: Kristen Stewart as Snow White.)

Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman has earned $354.71 million worldwide: as of Thursday, July 12, the film has grossed $150.6 million (42.5 percent) in North America, in addition to $204.1 million (57.5 percent) up to July 8 at the international box office. Not bad at all for a movie some insist on referring to as a “modest” success. [Addendum: This two-part article has been revised and updated. Please check out SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN box office vs. budget.]

Starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna, and Sam Claflin as Prince William, the Universal release had a reported $170 million budget. [See SWATH cast $300m+ movies.]

As a rule, Hollywood studios get about 50 percent of a movie's box office gross in North America and 40 percent of the overseas take. If we apply those percentages (which can and do vary) to Snow White and the Huntsman, Rupert Sanders' first feature has earned Universal approximately $75 million in North America and $81.5 million internationally, for a grand total of $156.5 million – or about $13.5 million less than the film's official budget.

Snow White and the Huntsman to recover its (big) budget?

Now, is there a chance for Snow White and the Huntsman to fully recover its (reported) budget at the box office? At this stage it seems unlikely (though not impossible), as another $30 million or so would be needed worldwide – chiefly overseas, for the film's domestic legs have pretty much run their course. In fact, though at a considerably slower pace, business has begun dwindling abroad as well; last weekend, Snow White and the Huntsman added a relatively modest $8.2 million.

Italy, where Snow White and the Huntsman opened last Wednesday, is the only major market where the film's box office figures have yet to be fully tallied. Things have started out well: according to Screenweek.it, the Kristen Stewart / Charlize Theron / Chris Hemsworth combo has grossed $1.95 million in its first three days, and may top Andrew Garfield / Emma Stone's The Amazing Spider-Man at the Italian box office this weekend. Even so, there's no chance Italy alone will suffice to lift Snow White and the Huntsman's international cume as high as it needs to go.

Snow White and the Huntsman in China?

However, if Universal gets Snow White and the Huntsman into China, then everything changes. So far, there's no scheduled release date in that country, which allows only a small number of foreign blockbusters into their theaters each year.

Although Kristen Stewart's stardom in Shanghai and Beijing may not be what it is most elsewhere – no Twilight movie has been screened in China; in Hong Kong, they've done only okay – action movies with special effects fare particularly well in that country. Indeed, Chris Hemsworth has a major hit at the Chinese box office: The Avengers has raked in $84.1 million. Though not based on a comic strip and not in 3D, I'd be very surprised if Snow White and the Huntsman doesn't turn out to be a major local hit.

[“Budget Recovered? SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN” continues on the next page. See link below.]

Kristen Stewart Snow White / Snow White and the Huntsman 2012 picture: Universal Pictures.

Snow White and the Huntsman Chris Hemsworth Kristen Stewart

Without China, can Snow White and the Huntsman ever recoup its budget for the studio? Not only it can, but it will. In fact, Sanders' film should easily be able to recover even the extra $80m-$90 million the studio likely spent marketing / distributing it. (As a rule of thumb, marketing / distribution costs amount to about half of a film's budget – though those figures can vary widely.)

According to a recent study in the United Kingdom, last year only 24 percent of British film revenues came from (apparently domestic) box office receipts. For a blockbuster such as the Anglo-American co-production Sherlock Holmes, the breakdown was 57 percent for box office / TV / cable / satellite and 43 percent for DVD / Blu-ray / digital.

Of course, those percentages vary from country to country, but let's use a really conservative figure for Snow White and the Huntsman: 50 percent box office , 50 percent everything else. In both cases, worldwide earnings.

At this point in time, that would mean another $355 million in ancillary revenues for the Universal release. Even if the studio gets only half of that amount*, or about $177.5 million, that would be more than enough to cover the little that's left of the budget, in addition to the studio's marketing / distribution expenses. In that scenario, Universal would ultimately be left with significant earnings: even after deducting expenses for the marketing / distribution of DVDs, etc., the studio would collect around $50 million.

Once again, these are “speculative estimates.” The point I'm making is that Universal will recover its investment on Snow White and the Huntsman – plus (sizable) change. That helps to explain why Snow White and the Huntsman 2 is in the works.

Snow White and the Huntsman top international markets

Snow White and the Huntsman's top foreign markets are the following (figures up to July 8): the United Kingdom with $23.43 million, Japan with $18.14 million, Australia with $15.97 million, Mexico with $15.82 million, France with $13.42 million, Germany with $13.2 million, Japan with $10.93 million, Russia/CIS with $12.56 million, Brazil with $12.31 million, and Spain with $10.72 million.

Besides the aforementioned Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, and Sam Claflin, the Snow White and the Huntsman cast includes Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, Ray Winstone, Vincent Regan, Noah Huntley, Nick Frost, Rachael Stirling, and Toby Jones. The screenplay was credited to Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini.

* Note: Studios spend less on marketing / distributing DVDs than big-screen releases. Also worth noting is that their cut of the grosses from DVD sales is considerably larger, about 66 percent – at least in the domestic market. And remember that a percentage of the money Universal and co-producing company Roth Films earn will have to be (however reluctantly) handed to the talent getting a share of the Snow White and the Huntsman's gross / rentals.

Box office information: Box Office Mojo.

Kristen Stewart Snow White / Snow White and the Huntsman 2012 picture: Alex Bailey / Universal Pictures.

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