Home Movie News ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Box Office vs. Budget: Hit or Flop?

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Box Office vs. Budget: Hit or Flop?


Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart.

Kristen Stewart & Rupert Sanders ‘cheating’ scandal helped Snow White and the Huntsman box office?

July 31 update: In the United States and Canada, despite the loss of nearly 15 percent of its venues, Snow White and the Huntsman was down less than 8 percent compared to the previous weekend, taking in $394,000 at 355 locations. Overseas, the film added an estimated $2 million. In other words: if the Kristen Stewart & Rupert Sanders “cheating” scandal – which has been major news around the globe – in any way affected the Snow White and the Huntsman box office receipts, it had a positive effect (at least in North America). [See also Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders cheating scandal to-do.]

For those who don’t know, Rupert Sanders is married to model Liberty Ross; Kristen Stewart had reportedly been dating Robert Pattinson. Now, back to what matters: directed by Sanders and starring Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin, as of Sunday, July 29, Snow White and the Huntsman has grossed an estimated $385.46 million globally: $153.26 million (40.2 percent) in the U.S. and Canada, and $232.2 million (59.8 percent) internationally.

Will ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ reach $400 million?

A couple of weeks ago, it seemed possible that Snow White and the Huntsman would reach the $400 million milestone worldwide. At this stage, however, barring a China release (or an unexpected box office jump), that no longer seems at all feasible. No, the “cheating” scandal had nothing to do with that. The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, is certainly a key culprit. After ten days, the Christopher Nolan-Christian Bale Batman film has brought in an estimated $248.2 million overseas. And there’s only so much money to be spent at movie theaters.

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s current worldwide total is an estimated $385.4 million. Chances are that Sanders’ film will end its run somewhere around $395 million.

Produced by Roth Films (the company headed by Alice in Wonderland‘s Joe Roth) and distributed by Universal Pictures domestically and in most international territories (via UIP), Snow White and the Huntsman reportedly cost a whopping $170 million.

As a rule (though those percentages can vary widely), Hollywood studios collect circa 50 percent of their movies’ total gross at the North American box office and 40 percent of the overseas take. If we apply those percentages to Snow White and the Huntsman, the period fantasy adventure has earned Universal / Roth Films approximately $76.6 million in North America and $92.9 million overseas, for a grand total of $169.5 million – or about $500,000 less than the film’s official budget.

But let’s not get nitpicky. For all purposes, Snow White and the Huntsman has finally recovered its gargantuan budget at the worldwide box office.

Now, remember: Universal quite likely spent another $80–$90 million plugging / distributing their (reported) $170 million film. Although marketing and distribution expenses can vary widely, as a rule of thumb, they amount to about half of a film’s budget. Obviously, Snow White and the Huntsman will not recover that amount at the box office, but the studio will in all probability recover those expenses – and more – once global ancillary revenues are tallied.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ DVD release

That being the case, cheating scandal or no cheating scandal, expect Snow White and the Huntsman 2 to get made. Of course, whether or not cast and director will remain the same is debatable. But then again, that was debatable long before the news of the Kristen Stewart / Rupert Sanders “affair” broke out. Note: The Snow White and the Huntsman DVD comes out on Sept. 11 in the United States.

In addition to Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna, Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, and Sam Claflin as Prince William, 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 SWATH screenplay was credited to Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini.

Snow White and the Huntsman box office updated

As of Sunday, July 15, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman has earned $370.4 million globally: $151.6 million (40.9 percent) in the United States and Canada, in addition to $218.8 million (59.1 percent) internationally. Once again, that’s not bad at all for a movie some have insisted on calling a “modest” or “moderate” box office success.

Produced by Roth Films (the company headed by Alice in Wonderland‘s Joe Roth) and distributed by Universal Pictures, Snow White and the Huntsman reportedly cost a whopping $170 million.

As a rule (though those percentages can vary widely), Hollywood studios get around 50 percent of their movies’ gross at the North American box office and 40 percent of the overseas take. If we apply those percentages to Snow White and the Huntsman, Rupert Sanders’ period fantasy adventure has earned Universal/Roth Films approximately $76 million in North America and $87.5 million overseas, for a grand total of $163.5 million – or about $6.5 million less than the film’s official budget.

Snow White and the Huntsman marketing / distribution costs covered?

So, will Snow White and the Huntsman end up in the black? As stated in my previous SWATH article (see further below), yes, it definitely will. Box-office revenues represent a relatively small percentage of a film’s total income. True, figures vary from film to film and from country to country, but a recent local UK study pegged them at about 25 percent.

Even if we raise that percentage as high as 50 percent, that means once worldwide ancillary revenues are tallied, Snow White and the Huntsman should have added at least another $370 million to its total take†. That would be more than enough to cover the film’s marketing and distribution budget and associated ancillary expenses, and leave the producing companies quite a bit of extra change.

Snow White and the Huntsman 2012 sequel: Good idea?

That helps to explain why a Snow White and the Huntsman sequel is reportedly in the works. Whether or not the sequel will pan out remains to be seen – though from the get-go, producer Joe Roth said he intended Snow White and the Huntsman to be part one of a trilogy. But at this stage SWATH 2 certainly looks like a good idea. That would be especially true if things don’t have to be rushed, as there certainly won’t be a sequel to Julia Roberts / Lily Collins’ Mirror Mirror. And here’s wondering if the sequel will be known as Snow White and the Huntsman 2 in 3D, so as to boost foreign sales of what’s bound to become another costly production.

† Studios spend considerably less on marketing / distributing DVDs than big-screen releases, while television rights are a financial bonanza as the related costs are usually small. Also worth noting is that, at least in the domestic market, the studios’ cut of the grosses from DVD sales is about 66 percent. And bear in mind that a percentage of the money Universal and Roth Films earn will be (however reluctantly) shared with the talent getting a cut of the Snow White and the Huntsman‘s gross / rentals.

July 14 update: Snow 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.

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.

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

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.

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 $23.4 million, Japan with $18.1 million, Australia with $16 million, Mexico with $15.8 million, France with $13.4 million, Germany with $13.2 million, Japan with $10.9 million, Russia/CIS with $12.6 million, Brazil with $12.3 million, and Spain with $10.7 million.

* 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.

* Italian figure includes pre-weekend screenings.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ cast: $300+ million box office hits

Snow White and the Huntsman has become Kristen Stewart’s fifth movie to gross more than $300 million worldwide. Stewart’s other four $300+ million titles are all Twilight movies: Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight (2008) scored a surprising $392.6 million; Chris Weitz’s New Moon (2009) earned $709.8 million; David Slade’s Eclipse $698.5 million (2010); and Bill Condon’s Breaking Dawn - Part 1 $705.1 million (2011).

Kristen Stewart will inevitably have her sixth $300+ million blockbuster later this year: Condon’s Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Co-starring Stewart’s fellow Twilight players Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, the last installment in the Twilight franchise opens Nov. 16, 2012.

Besides Snow White and the Huntsman, Chris Hemsworth’s two $300+ million movies – also not including J.J. AbramsStar Trek, in which Hemsworth has a minor role – are both Marvel adaptations in which he plays the same character: Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, with Hemsworth in the title role, brought in $449.3 million last year, while Joss Whedon’s The Avengers currently has an phenomenal $1.448 billion cume.

Whedon’s ensemble superhero adventure, I should add, passed the $600 million milestone in North America last week. In addition to Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers features Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeremy Renner.

Charlize Theron has thus far only one other $300m+ worldwide hit – and that’s not a “Charlize Theron star vehicle”: after all, Hancock (2008) is for all intents and purposes a “Will Smith movie.” Directed by Battleship‘s Peter Berg, the fantasy drama drew $624.4 million.

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, in which Theron is part of an ensemble that includes Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, and Idris Elba, has thus far raked in $284.9 million worldwide.

And finally, relative newcomer Sam Claflin – much like Charlize Theron – has only one other $300+ million hit. Once again much like Theron, Claflin’s (major) blockbuster was a star vehicle for somebody else: Rob Marshall’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), toplining Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz, collected an astounding $1.04 billion worldwide.

* Remember, studios generally get around 50 percent of their films’ domestic box office gross; 40 percent from the international take.

June 24: Snow White and the Huntsman‘s international cume stands at $160.4 million, ahead of Prometheus’ (3D-assisted) $152.9 million. However, another 3D-assisted movie, Men in Black III, starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin, will remain ahead of SWATH. MIB3‘s international cume is a remarkably strong $414 million from 75 territories, including the all-important Chinese market. (MIB3‘s box office gross in the U.S. and Canada: $163.33 million.)

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Passing $300 million milestone

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s international (and, really, domestic) trajectory has been impressive considering that it stars “unproven” box office draws – Kristen Stewart has been a powerhouse only as Twilight‘s Bella Swan; same for Chris Hemsworth as Thor; it’s a period piece without the Lord of the Rings following; it’s not a sequel (unlike Men in Black 3); and it’s not in 3D.

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s estimated worldwide total is $297.5 million, it’ll pass the $300 million milestone either on Monday or, at the very latest, on Tuesday. Though not exactly a certainty, Snow White and the Huntsman may reach $350–$360 million worldwide before the end of its run. If so, Rupert Sanders’ period fantasy / adventure will likely recoup its production budget at the global box office.

Now, another $170–$190 million would be needed to cover Universal’s marketing and distribution expenses on Snow White and the Huntsman. Those usually amount to about 50-60 percent of a film’s budget. Remember, as a rule of thumb, Hollywood studios get around 50 percent of a film’s box office gross in North America and 40 percent of the overseas take.

In sum: Snow White and the Huntsman is an undeniable box office success. However, the movie will need worldwide ancillary revenues (TV, DVD/Blu-ray, VOD, etc) to recover its gargantuan costs. That’s how it works for most big-budget Hollywood movies, as very few manage to recover their budget and marketing / distribution expenses at the box office alone.


Snow White and the Huntsman behind the scenes: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart, and director Rupert Sanders.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ box office: domestic

June 17 update: In North America, Rupert Sanders’ period fantasy / adventure way overperformed when it debuted two weekends ago, grossing $56.2 million. The following weekend, the Snow White and the Huntsman box office was down an alarming 59 percent – likely due to strong competition from Madagascar 3 and Ridley Scott’s sci-fier Prometheus, in addition to the possibility that Kristen Stewart’s fans may have gone en masse on opening weekend to see Stewart play a Joan of Arc’ed version of Snow White.

Just as importantly, SWATH lacked strong reviews / word of mouth (the film received a “B” Cinemascore rating), which are crucial elements for a film’s box office longevity. (See also: Kristen Stewart box office draw.)

However, as expected, Snow White and the Huntsman‘s domestic box office performance has stabilized somewhat. True, reviews and word of mouth haven’t been laudatory, but they haven’t been damning, either. In fact, this weekend in the U.S. and Canada, SWATH grossed an estimated $13.8 million at 3,701 locations, or about 10 percent more than early estimates indicated. If that figure is accurate, the film was down a perfectly acceptable 40 percent from a week ago, after losing 76 venues (about 3 percent of its theaters).

SWATH reportedly cost $170 million, in addition to marketing and distribution expenses which often amount to about half of a film’s production budget. If Universal spent, say, $80 million in marketing and distributing Snow White and the Huntsman, then in order to break even at the worldwide box office, Rupert Sanders’ film would have to gross approximately $520–$560 million, depending on where the movie makes most of its money. (Studios get about 50–55 percent of their films’ U.S. and Canada box office gross; 40 percent of the overseas gross.)

A curiosity: as mentioned in a previous post, two Snow White and the Huntsman performers have two movies among the top five on the North American box office chart. Charlize Theron’s other box office success is Prometheus (which earned $51.1 million at no. 2, or a little more than the $50 million estimate released yesterday); Chris Hemsworth’s is The Avengers (which added $11.2 million at no. 5).

June 5: According to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo, Snow White and the Huntsman took in $56.2 million at 3,773 venues, or a tiny bit less than studio estimates. Its per-theater average was $14,900, particularly remarkable for a 2-hour+ 2D movie.

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-$40 million on its first weekend out.

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 ($20.3 million), and Battleship ($4.8 million). It also grossed more than twice Men in Black 3‘s second-weekend take, $28.1 million (down 48 percent – which isn’t really bad, considering that the previous Sunday had preceded a major holiday). Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Emma Thompson topline MIB3.

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’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.

‘Snow White’ vs. ‘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 ($200 million after rebates). It raked in $105.26 million at the domestic box office, in addition to a much healthier $216.4 million overseas.

For comparisons sake: Will Smith / Tommy Lee Jones’ Men in Black III collected $54.59 million last weekend. If estimates are accurate, Kristen Stewart / Charlize Theron / Chris Hemsworth’s Snow White and the Huntsman took in nearly $2 million more. Now, bear in mind that the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed MIB3 had no less than five major advantages over the Rupert Sanders-directed SWATH:

  • Will Smith, a consistent box office draw in different types of roles and film genres for the last 15 years, e.g., drama (The Pursuit of Happyness), action (Bad Boys II), thriller (I, Robot), comedy (Hitch), fantasy (Hancock), science-fiction / horror (I Am Legend).
  • The Men in Black brand: Men in Black II and Men in Black grossed a total of $441 million (not adjusted for inflation) at the domestic box office.
  • 3D surcharges that can increase movie-ticket prices by up to 45 percent.
  • Screenings at 4,248 locations, or about 450 more theaters than SWATH.
  • A pre-holiday Sunday, which translates into a much stronger box office performance. Last Monday was Memorial Day in the U.S.; MIB3 was down only 18 percent from Saturday, whereas average Sunday drop-off rates range from 30–40 percent.

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s box office performance is particularly impressive when one takes into account that the film received wildly mixed reviews. SWATH currently has a so-so 62 percent approval rating and a 6.2/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. One curiosity: SWATH has fared much better with Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics” than with RT’s “overall critics,” with whom the period adventure fantasy has a downright mediocre 46 percent approval rating (and a 5.5./10 average). Generally speaking, “top critics” tend to be quite a bit more demanding. [See SWATH Movie Reviews.]


Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’: Good news for Universal

A Universal release, Snow White and the Huntsman is the centenarian studio’s first strong box office performer since the animated 3D feature Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax in early March. Universal’s ensuing releases have all been misfires at the U.S. and Canada box office: Peter Berg / Taylor Kitsch’s $209 million-budgeted Battleship, Jason Biggs / Seann William Scott’s $50 million comedy American Reunion, and the Judd Apatow-produced $30 million comedy The Five-Year Engagement.

To date, those three movies have raked in $55.12 million, $56.71 million, and $28.28 million, respectively. If estimates are accurate, on one single weekend Snow White and the Huntsman has earned more than the testosterone-fueled Battleship after three weekends; nearly as much as American Reunion during the course of its eight-week run; and about twice as much as The Five-Year Engagement after six weekends.

Following Joss Whedon / Chris Evans’ May opener The Avengers, which also features SWATH‘s Chris Hemsworth, all other major (and mid-level) domestic releases have been underperformers: the aforementioned Battleship; Sony Pictures’ costly Men in Black 3 (budgeted at somewhere between $225–$300 million); Paramount’s The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen; Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton, and starring Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer; and Lionsgate’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting, featuring an ensemble cast that includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, and Battleship‘s Brooklyn Decker. Snow White and the Huntsman is the first wide release to buck that trend.


Prince Charming Sam Claflin, Snow White and the Huntsman

It’s also worth noting that Snow White and the Huntsman is the second action / adventure movie featuring women in key roles – Kristen Stewart’s Snow White, Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen Ravenna – that has performed strongly at the domestic box office. Starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games is one of 2012’s biggest box office hits, having to date collected $398.74 million.

Meanwhile, with the exception of Disney’s all-star The Avengers, male-dominated action / fantasy flicks have mostly been box office disappointments – or downright bombs – at the U.S. and Canada box office, e.g., Andrew Stanton / Taylor Kitsch’s John Carter with a cume of $72.58m; Will Smith / Tommy Lee Jones’ Men in Black III, which opened about $10-15 million below expectations; another Taylor Kitsch action movie, the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, which, as mentioned in the previous post, has grossed $55 million after three weekends; and Tim Burton / Johnny Depp’s costly (see below) fantasy comedy Dark Shadows, with $70.83 million after four weekends.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ vs. ‘Mirror Mirror’

Much was said about two Snow White movies being made (and released) back to back: Relativity Media’s Mirror Mirror and Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Initially, Universal moved the release date of its Snow White film so it would come out before Relativity’s. But then Relativity retaliated by moving up the release date of its own Snow White film.

The end result was that Relativity’s Mirror Mirror hit worldwide screens in March. Directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Oscar winner Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins as Snow White, and Armie Hammer as Prince Charming, Mirror Mirror presented the Snow White fairy tale as a light, child-oriented comedy. Reviews were tepid: 50 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ “overall critics” (5.6/10 average rating) and a poor 37 percent approval rating among RT’s “top critics” (5/10 average rating). [Notice that SWATH‘s Rotten Tomatoes’ approval ratings – in regard to “top” vs. “overall” critics – was the opposite of Mirror Mirror‘s.]

Reportedly budgeted at $85 million – half the Snow White and the Huntsman production budget – Mirror Mirror debuted with a disappointing $18.1 million, going on to cume at $62.5 million in the U.S. and Canada. As is usually the case with fantasy, action, and adventure movies, Mirror Mirror performed better overseas, bringing in $97.9 million. Its top territories were the United Kingdom, Russia/CIS (includes most of the former Soviet Union), and Brazil.


Chris Hemsworth’s huntsman, the dwarves, Snow White and the Huntsman

At the international box office, Snow White and the Huntsman opened with a strong $39.3 million at 4,487 venues in 45 markets. SWATH was no. 1 in 30 of those territories, trailing either Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, which also features SWATH‘s Charlize Theron, or Men in Black 3 in most of the other markets. SWATH‘s top territory was the United Kingdom, where it scored $5.5 million. Here’s the breakdown for Snow White and the Huntsman‘s other top markets: Mexico with $4.4 million, Germany $4 million, Spain $3.8 million, South Korea $3 million, and Brazil $2.5 million.

Ahead of Snow White and the Huntsman at the international box office was Men in Black 3 on its second weekend out. MIB3 had three major advantages over Snow White: it’s already playing in megamarkets China and Russia, it’s screening at 19,992 locations (about four times more than Snow White, and it’s in 3D, a major box office booster abroad. Men in Black 3 collected $79.1 million in 90 markets. Also with the assistance of 3D surcharges, Prometheus scored an estimated $35 million at 4,695 screens in 15 markets.

Snow White and the Huntsman has yet to open in a number of major markets, including Australia, France, Italy, Japan and Russia. For the time being, I haven’t been able to find any information on whether or not SWATH will be screened in China. Curiously, Kristen Stewart isn’t exactly a major star in that country – the second biggest market (after the United States) for American movies – as none of the Twilight movies has been shown there.

Anyhow, Snow White and the Huntsman should pass the $100 million milestone at the worldwide box office some time on Monday. SWATH‘s current (estimated) worldwide box office cume is $95.55 million.

Snow White and the Huntsman international box office: The Hollywood Reporter. Other box office information: Box Office Mojo.

June 2 afternoon


Snow White and the Huntsman: Kristen Stewart / Snow White in Joan of Arc armor

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s box office performance in North America on Friday, June 1, has far surpassed the expectations of both Universal Pictures and box office prognosticators. Directed by Rupert Sanders, and starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin, Snow White and the Huntsman was expected to earn between $30m-$40 million on its first weekend.

But it now seems SWATH may reach $55 million after collecting an estimated $20.3 million at 3,773 locations. Although that’s slightly down from the “roughly estimated” $21 million reported last night, SWATH‘s $20.3 million is still more than the combined take of the next six movies on the domestic box office chart, as pointed out by Box Office Mojo’s Ray Subers. (For the record, the six runners-up are: Men in Black III, The Avengers, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Battleship, The Dictator, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.)

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ vs. ‘Men in Black III’

For comparisons sake, Will Smith / Tommy Lee Jones’ Men in Black III grossed $17.66 million on opening day a week ago and went on to collect $54.59 million over the weekend. Now, bear in mind that MIB3 had five major advantages over Snow White and the Huntsman:

  • Will Smith, a consistent box office draw in different types of roles and film genres for the last 15 years;
  • the Men in Black brand;
  • 3D surcharges that can increase movie-ticket prices by up to 45%;
  • screenings at 4,248 locations – or about 450 more venues than SWATH
  • a pre-holiday Sunday, which translates into bigger box office receipts. (Last Monday was Memorial Day in the U.S.)

Something else that makes Snow White and the Huntsman‘s opening-day box office performance even more impressive is that Rupert Sanders’ film received wildly mixed reviews. SWATH currently has a so-so 62 percent approval rating and a 6.2/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics. One curiosity I should point out: SWATH has fared much better with Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics” than with that site’s “average critics,” with whom Sanders’ film has only a 45 percent approval rating (and a 5.5./10 average). Generally speaking, “top critics” tend to be quite a bit harsher.

A Universal release, Snow White and the Huntsman reportedly cost $170 million. It’s the studio’s first solid box office performer since Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax in early March, as its ensuing releases have all been misfires at the domestic box office: Peter Berg / Taylor Kitsch’s $209 million-budgeted Battleship, Jason Biggs / Seann William Scott’s $50 million comedy American Reunion, and the Judd Apatow-produced $30 million comedy The Five-Year Engagement. To date, those three movies have raked in $50.31 million, $56.71 million, and $28.1 million, respectively.

June 2 early morning


Snow White and the Huntsman: Charlize Theron as Ravenna.

Snow White and the Huntsman‘s box office performance in North America, if early estimates are accurate, has surpassed the expectations of both Universal Pictures and box office prognosticators – and Universal Pictures may finally have a good-sized hit in its hands.

Directed by feature-film newcomer Rupert Sanders, and starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin, Snow White and the Huntsman was expected to earn somewhere between $30-$40 million on its debut weekend. It turns out the period adventure fantasy may reach $56 million after collecting an estimated $21 million at 3,773 locations on Friday.

The above early, rough estimates were found at Deadline.com. Once again, if accurate, that also means Snow White and the Huntsman is – at least on when it comes to opening weekends – a much bigger box office hit than Men in Black III. And bear in mind that the Will Smith / Tommy Lee Jones starrer, which debuted with $54.59 million last weekend, had four major advantages over Snow White and the Huntsman:

  • Will Smith, a consistent box office performer in various sorts of roles and movie genres for the last 15 years;
  • the Men in Black brand;
  • 3D surcharges that can boost movie-ticket costs by up to 45%;
  • a pre-holiday Sunday, which means bigger business on that day. (Last Monday was Memorial Day in the United States.)

A Universal release, Snow White and the Huntsman cost a reported $170 million. It’s the studio’s first solid performer since Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, as Peter Berg / Taylor Kitsch’s $209 million-budgeted Battleship, Jason Biggs / Seann William Scott’s $50 million comedy American Reunion, and the Judd Apatow-produced $30 million comedy The Five-Year Engagement were all domestic box office misfires, grossing to date $50.31 million, $56.71 million, and $28.1 million, respectively.

Snow White and the Huntsman received wildly mixed reviews. It currently has a 62 percent approval rating and a 6.2/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics. It’s curious that SWATH performed much better with Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics” than with the site’s “average critics,” with whom Sanders’ film has a much lower 46 percent approval rating (and a 5.5./10 average). Generally speaking, “top critics” tend to be quite a bit harder to please.

As per Deadline, moviegoing audiences have given Snow White and the Huntsman a B CinemaScore. Some see that as a positive score; others see it as mediocre. Either way, whether those scores actually affect a movie’s overall box office performance is open to debate. A B+ certainly didn’t help John Carter, while the B-rated Channing Tatum / Rachel McAdams romantic melodrama The Vow became one of this past winter’s biggest sleeper hits.

Box Office: ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ to buck post-‘The Avengers’ downward trend

Since the (to a certain extent) surprising megablockbuster performance by Disney / Marvel’s The Avengers, which opened a month ago, all other major (or mid-level) releases have been box office underperformers in the U.S. and Canada: Men in Black 3, Battleship, Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator, Tim Burton-Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows, and Cameron Diaz-Jennifer Lopez’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting. If estimates hold, Snow White and the Huntsman will become the first release to buck that trend.

Curiously, 2012 has been a busy year for the three Snow White and the Huntsman principals. Kristen Stewart has two other movies coming out this year:

  • Walter SallesOn the Road, which received mixed reviews at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to Stewart (as Marylou), On the Road features Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, and Tom Sturridge. Jack Kerouac wrote the original novel. Distributed by IFC Films / Sundance Selects, On the Road should open in the US later this year.
  • Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, in which Kristen Stewart plays Bella Swan for the last time. Her co-stars are Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Also in the Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast are Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Booboo Stewart, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Charlize Theron is one of the space cadets in Ridley Scott’s horror sci-fier Prometheus, which has already opened in several countries. The Alien prequel also features Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, and Rafe Spall.

Chris Hemsworth has two previous 2012 movies: Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers, co-starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston.

Next in line for Hemsworth is Dan Bradley’s Red Dawn, with Josh Hutcherson, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Peck. And next year, Hemsworth will be seen in Ron Howard’s Rush, an auto-racing drama co-starring Olivia Wilde, Daniel Brühl, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Natalie Dormer.


Snow White and the Huntsman: Charlize Theron.

June 1: Snow White and the Huntsman box office: Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman opened strongly at Thursday midnight screenings in North America, grossing an estimated $1.4 million at only 1,092 theaters. That’s nearly 40 percent more than the $1 million earned by the Sam Worthington 3D fantasy Wrath of the Titans at nearly 1,500 sites, and more than twice the take of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp comedy Dark Shadows ($550,000 at 1,600 locations).

Another box office comparison: Snow White and the Huntsman‘s $1,266 per-theater average far surpassed that of Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones’ Men in Black III‘s $694 at 2,232 locations last week. Although it’s true that all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters the higher the per-theater average should be, that doesn’t explain an 80 percent higher average for SWATH. Not to mention the fact that Men in Black III – itself a recognizable brand – had the huge advantage of 3D surcharges, which can go as high as 45 percent above the price of regular movie tickets.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’: Budget comparisons

A few budget comparisons: Men in Black III cost anywhere between $225–$300 million, Wrath of the Titans cost $150 million, Peter Berg’s Battleship $209 million, Andrew Stanton’s John Carter $250 million, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers $225 million, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland $200 million, and Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games $78 million.

Dark Shadows, which bombed in North America ($64.9 million after three weekends), cost a reported $150 million. Directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, and Armie Hammer, Mirror Mirror, the “other Snow White movie,” cost a reported $80 million.

Now, even if SWATH opens at the lower end of expectations, that would still be better than Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood, which grossed $36 million on its opening weekend in 2010. Robin Hood cost a reported $200 million and ended up earning $105 million at the U.S. and Canada box office and a remarkable $216.4 million internationally.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’: $50 million opening weekend?

Now, Men in Black III raked in $1.55 million at midnight screenings, which is less than $200,000 more than Snow White and the Huntsman. Ultimately, the Smith-Jones action flick went on to earn $54.59 million on its opening weekend. Caution: Predictions based on MIB3 figures would be iffy because last Sunday preceded a major holiday; as a result, MIB3‘s three-day opening was “inflated” by the pre-holiday Sunday. Snow White and the Huntsman will have no such advantage.

Charlize Theron, Liam Hemsworth, and Kristen Stewart Snow White and the Huntsman images: Alex Bailey / Universal Pictures.

60 comments

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60 comments

zac -

@Freya

>>>Zac, you are so smart on different topics, it has always been a pleasure to read anything from you.

Thank you!!

>>>>But when it comes to Kristen Stewart it always looks like you try hard to do her a favor instead of being objective.

>>>>>But the movie is desperately trying to make ends meet (even you don’t argue on that point).

Actually I would. At the box office, “Snow White and the Huntsman” will just about break even (budget, not including P&A), but ancillary revenues will surely help it end up earning Universal (and Roth Films) some good $$$, depending on the sort of distribution contract they have between them.

>>>>>>>>And by the way, in your theory - EVERY MOVIE THAT ENDS UP IN THE BLACK NEEDS A SEQUEL? Oh really? Don’t you think it’s just funny? Are you prepared to be overwhelmed by the sequels in the nearest future?

We’re *already* overwhelmed by sequels, remakes, reboots and the like. Hard to imagine it getting any worse. But one clarification: I didn’t say “Snow White and the Huntsman” NEEDS a sequel. I said Universal is reportedly working on one and that from the start producer Joe Roth had said he wanted the first “Snow White and the Huntsman” to be part 1 of a trilogy.

And that from a *business* standpoint it could be seen as a good idea, especially considering that sequels usually fare better than the first movie. That’s it.

So, I wasn’t saying it’s a good idea from a storytelling standpoint or that the world of cinema needs SWATH 2.

Having said that, if things aren’t rushed the way they were for “Snow White and the Huntsman” (because of competition with Relativity’s “Mirror Mirror”), there’s a chance SWATH 2 — if it does get made — will be a better movie than the first. We’ll see…

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Freya -

Zac, you are so smart on different topics, it has always been a pleasure to read anything from you. But when it comes to Kristen Stewart it always looks like you try hard to do her a favor instead of being objective. Most of moviegoers found SWATH mediocre if not absolutely bad. Critics said it just didn’t live up to the expectations. It would mean nothing if the flick had reached 700 mln at the box office as the Twilight series did. But the movie is desperately trying to make ends meet (even you don’t argue on that point). And by the way, in your theory - EVERY MOVIE THAT ENDS UP IN THE BLACK NEEDS A SEQUEL? Oh really? Don’t you think it’s just funny? Are you prepared to be overwhelmed by the sequels in the nearest future?

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zac -

@lena @Lesbilandia

Perhaps Charlize Theron will be brought back somehow for the “Snow White and the Huntsman” sequel? Maybe Ravenna had a twin sister (Crowenna???), who’s now out to avenge her??

@Riley
Re: Universal’s “Battleship”
Using the 50% domestic; 40% foreign gross going to the studio:
$32.5m + $94.5m = $127m
Reported production budget = $210m + est. $110 P&A = $320m

Even if “Battleship” ends up earning another $300m worldwide in ancillary revenues, let’s say (being quite generous) that 66% (two-thirds) of that amount goes to Universal. That would be $200m.

$127m + $200m = $327m - $320m = $7m in “profits”

But then you have to deduct marketing / distribution / overhead expenses tied to the ancillary “product,” not to mention the percentage of the gross / rentals that goes to partners (such as Hasbro) & other producing companies, and/or performers/director/screenwriters who get a share of the gross / rentals, etc.

In other words: depending on how much they put up for the production budget, in this scenario Universal would end up very much in the red.

And remember, ancillary revenues will take some time before they get to Universal’s coffers.

Also, a $100m writedown for Universal (as part of NBC Universal, an entity owned by GE & Comcast) would look quite good on their corporate tax forms, no? Ancillary revenues could perhaps be spread out over the course of months (or years), so as to avoid higher quarterly taxes?

GE, the company that brings light and happiness (and nuclear weapon materials) to the world, has some very good accountants (and a reported 49% share on NBC Universal): nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all

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lena -

a swath’s sequel without Charlize??I think it’s a bad idea, you’re probably a big fan of kStew, but let’s be honest, her performance was very shabby ,the critics hated the film and her. success at the box office is mainly due to special effects and Charlize Theron

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Spanglish in Lesbilandia -

After having watched Snow White and the Huntsman I honestly don’t believe it merits a sequel. I wouldn’t say it was a bad movie …it was entertaining up to a point but WHY? Yes, I know Hollywood will do whatever they think will make more money, but somehow I don’t really see a sequel as being a box office “success” …especially without Charlize Theron.

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Ridley -

Thanks for the update Zac! Ultimately, am still confused about the funny math. By your account, Battleship should break even. Would that be correct? But some sites are calling for a 100M write down from Uni? Would low to hear your thoughts on this. By this estimation, it’s no wonder production budgets just get bigger!

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Ridley -

Interesting that these numbers are spun everywhich way. Maybe most comparable could be Tron Legacy? 400 Mil WW. 170 Domestic. 170 prod cost. Seem to recall that this was considered a major disappointment for Disney.

On another point,, I agree that Stewart isn’t by any means on the level of Cruise. At the same time, doesn’t how well this movie is doing abroad a measure of her international appeal? Most recently SWATH opens ahead of Spiderman in Italy amongst other markets. Looking at the most recent numbers is ~400M that far out of reach at this point? Given that this is currently 370M to datei wonder. Of course Dark Knight opens next weekend.

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zac -

@Riley,

>>From a rule of thumb perspective, is there a magic number that guarantees Trades consider something a hit?

I’d say it often depends on the publication’s or the writer’s agenda. Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day” earned $261m worldwide. Reported cost: $117m. Most of what I’ve seen describe the movie as a “flop” or a “bomb” or a “disappointment.”

Why? Tom Cruise is in it. He has become a magnet for negative publicity in the last few years. Those people/publications will spin the facts whichever way they want. “Knight and Day” was a disappointment in North America? Well, let’s use *that* as THE parameter to judge the movie’s performance. It fits with the kind of image we want for someone like Tom Cruise.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” stars that “Twilight” chick? Yikes. We all know none of the “Twilight” stars are real stars or box-office attractions. Can’t say the film is a bomb? Well, call it a “modest” success or a “moderate performer,” or some such. And so it goes…

Needless to say, that happens with everything, not just when it comes to reporting entertainment news or the box-office performance of a movie such as “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Addendum: When it comes to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” I’m talking about its success — as stated in the article — at the box office. Universal’s eventual earnings are something else. Also, I don’t believe Joe Roth (the “Alice in Wonderland” producer) was expecting as a big a return on “Snow White” as in “Alice in Wonderland” for three reasons: no 3D, not a children’s movie, no Johnny Depp (major star abroad).

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Ridley -

Thanks Zac. It’s interesting that these are all about expectation and how the movies meet expectations whether stated or not in Trade. From the producers of Alice in Wonderland, I am sure they were expecting a lot more out from this. Allowing the budget to balloon over 170 million as well. Added onto this, it was a kind of p*%@-ing contest with Ryan Kavanaugh, makes for not necessarily the best movie making.

From a rule of thumb perspective, is there a magic number that guarantees Trades consider something a hit? Like making box office of 100m ore more or is it definitely relative to the budget? Meaning if JC made $125 million, it would not have been thusly crucified?

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zac -

@jo

Point well taken re: sequels…

@Ridley,

I’ve seen “Snow White and the Huntsman” referred to as a “modest” or “moderate” success in the trades and, I believe, the “Los Angeles Times.” Just checked. LAT does indeed talk about SWATH’s “moderate performance.” They were saying that Universal needed a big hit like “Ted.”

One thing you’ll notice when you’re reading US publications is that they usually take into account only the United States. Nothing else matters. Or at least not as much. The studios, of course, know better.

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jo -

it will probably break even without china. what is hurting this movie though is it’s massive budget. it started out at 70 million and grew to over 170. they promoted it everywhere. there were tons of billboards all over the place in cities, and i think universal was hoping to get a lot more back then what they will. they had a whole weekend on hsn pumping this movie and selling stuff. the movie didn’t bomb by any means, and i’m sure they will be happy with what they get back. it’s funny though you look at their movie ted, that movie cost about 90 million, and has already made more domestically then snow white. what is helping snow white though is it’s appeal overseas, so that’s one good thing. i’m wondering though if universal will cut the budget if they do a sequel (i’m one of those that don’t believe sequels till they are ready to go, and that goes for any movie).

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zac -

@jo

You make a good point, though I meant that China grosses — or rather, rentals, i.e., money going to Universal — could be the “tipping point” so “Snow White and the Huntsman” would break even at the worldwide box office.

From what I’ve read, the Hollywood studios claim they used to get 13-17.5% of the gross in the Chinese market, now upped to 20-25%. How accurate that is, only someone with direct access to each Hollywood studio’s accounting procedures / contracts would know for sure…

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r -

Hi Zac, what is the industry perception on SWATH? When you mention ‘modest,’ is that in the blogosphere or by the powers that be? Would imagine that those in the know would know better about the numbers.

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jo -

doubt they will get it into china. china is a very stingy place for movies. also it’s not the make it or break it market. studio’s get a lot less from china vs what they get from other countries. there was an article about this from the new york times about the sec asking if hollywood studios are briding the chinese government to show their movies. they mentioned that studios get only get about 15% of gross, and that just got changed to 25% from china.

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Nin -

Sanders will return for SNWATH2 but Kristen will not. I hope that she had not signed any contracts to return. She does not need to do it. She should go back to indie movies where the stories, script, directing and her acting is better.

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nt -

Nah,if Swath 2 even gets made Ruprick Sanders would get the axe because all he did prior to this was tv commercials so no big loss there.

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Lena -

I bet un apple cake that Swath 2 will be done with both,Rupert and KStew! Robsten is dead! Long life to Rupsten !

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Amanda -

Excellent information. I would be very surprised if SWATH 2 is made with BOTH Sanders and Stewart involved. Do you think Universal would be more reluctant to get rid of Sanders or Kristen?

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Julie -

Taking into account the big-ass advertising costs (& wink wink, lead stars taking separate private jets for promotional tours), will SWATH still make PROFITS? I seriously doubt it. By now, SWATH has pretty much been shown in all major overseas markets.

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Summeriris -

Interestig analysis but I have to agree with Don and not with luacheia99 . in the UK at least. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was very highly marketed. There were TV spots on every single channel, it even sposored a show on the Scifi Channel. that cost signifigantly more that billboards, though it was up on quite a few of those. It hink the marketing costs were on the heavy side to tell the truth. So yes, maybe it is a success as far as the Twilight fans are concerned, unfortunatedly it’s not that populatr with at teast half of the people who saw it. Those reviews panning it are just about half.

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Sam -

I’m glad SWATH is doing so well. Everyone worked so hard on it.

Lea, I totally agree. This just proves that Kristen CAN make good movies that bring in the cash. Her haters can go and cry now because the movie didn’t fail! :)

As for the cost, SWATH had a ton of special effects which are very expensive to produce. Also, did you see those big huge group scenes? Those take up a lot of time and money too. AND it’s quite a long movie. It all adds up ;) Marketing probably goes into it too, although I don’t think it would be 100mil…

Either way, I’m happy.

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Lea -

I still can’t believe that it cost that much of this film?Can somebody really help me if really the budget to produce this film is 170million cos I still cannot believe it?thank god that it brings back the production budget cost because I’m sure some of kristen haters used this to hate her more and blaming her if this film is flop.

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kris -

hi i have heard the budget for SWATH was 70 for production and 100 for marketing so all together 170 million. i dont know if true but thats what i have heard

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Freya -

What are the calculations for? SWATH is not a flop but it is not a huge success either. They have budget of 225 mln with marketing and they obviously hoped for more than 350+ mln (I doubt there is a chance to reach 400 mln). There were so much investments in the movie (I mean not only money), everyone was talking about SWATH sometime around, and it still struggling to break even. Only Kristen Stewart’s fans claim it’s a success. Look at the other summer blockbusters - The Amazing Spiderman, Men in black 4, Ted (not to mention The Avengers) - they are really successful but SWATH is somewhere in the middle, it just didn’t live up to the buzz.

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luacheia99 -

Jo,

Yeah… I agree with you! We don’t have more quality movie been made for lack of money that Studios are putting in one only bag of eggs. For me it is a pity and a sad thing. I reduced hugely the quantity of movies I see per year for lack of what to see.
Most of the American indie movies don’t get distribution. So… I miss the opportunity of see them… :(
As well… The European and Latino productions are almost zero now a days… We are buried in a huge amount of male teen blockbusters, some comedies and only a few movies that brings something!
It has to end! 150/250M budget movies are insane! It is nuts! The industry is a wreck route to collective financial suicide. It seems each time more like a Russian roulette!

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jo -

@luacheia99, i think the days of studios making films on a modest budget are getting few and far in between. why studios need to feel like they have to spend so much to make a movie is beyond me. there have been many great modest budgeted movies that go on to make their budget plus profit. it’s sad because many indie flims are struggling to get made, and studios pass on them to make crap like guinness world book of records the movie, and yes they are actually making that into a movie

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zac -

@luacheia99

As always, thanks for writing.

The “40% cut” takes into account the fact that the Hollywood majors usually distribute their own movies abroad. But again, that’s the “common wisdom,” in other words, the percentage you see mentioned everywhere. How accurate that is, it’s impossible to tell unless one checks the studios’ accounting documentation for each of their films.

But remember, international releases will accrue local fees/taxes, in addition to the cut of the local distributor / exhibitors. That’s one key reason why the Hollywood majors’ international cut is lower than their domestic one.

More “common wisdow”: the 50% of the production budget spent on marketing / distribution. That percentage surely varies widely, depending on how big (or small) a film’s budget.

Now, I’d say chances are that a movie with a (reported) $170m budget will propel its studio to spend more than $50m in marketing.

For comparison’s sake: the reported marketing budget for the most recent “Paranormal Activity” movie was $25m. How could Universal only spend twice as much on a movie that (officially) cost 170 times what PA cost?

Unless I see hard data somewhere that show a smaller amount, I’d bet on the $85m-$90m estimate. When you invest that much money ($170m) on a movie, you do want — you *need* — huge returns. Marketing is the key to achieve that goal, especially considering that a film’s box-office success will radically affect ancillary sales.

But again, the only way to know for sure how much $$$$ was spent on “Snow White and the Huntsman”: an in-depth examination of Universal’s accounting department…

Once again, thanks for writing, luacheia99.

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luacheia99 -

Zac,

I think the international earn will be a lot more then 40% because it was mostly distributed by Universal Picture International. In 60 countries, I saw maybe only 5 different distributors, the rest it was made by UPI.

Beside it I don’t think it spent between 70/80 M in marketing. I saw numbers around 50M or less in some sites and analyzes. Basically because it had a very good viral campaign but it was mostly a viral online campaign and just two premieres that had good sponsors, in London and Sidney. Mega installations were only seen in US and UK.

In most countries as in Brazil the marketing campaign for any movie is ridiculous. It is mostly posters and card-boards in the cinemas and in some road back-lights. I also saw an online trailer campaign on YouTube, nothing more.

I don’t think this kind of campaign are very expensive…

The movie will add until its ends more 5M or so, making a domestic total of 155M, At foreign BO, at least more 20M minimum but if it goes well in Italy it can make 25M. How? Well it made 14.8M last week/weekend, this week (not including Italy) it will make at least more 7M and the next week/weekend after, more 3M. Soooo it can ending its course with at least more 10/13M plus more 7/12M from Italy.

So… 355M plus a domestic 5M plus foreign 17/25M… We could say it probably will end its course earning between 377M to 385M.

Lets put it around 380M.

With UPI distributing internationally, Universal cut is probably 50% in the foreign BO also.

So… It would be returning around 190M to pay the 170M production budget and a good part of the 50M marketing budget with the another 20M.

The profit will be sure and good!

For a 2D fairytale, not franchise or an adaptation of a book with a rabbit fan base… It did really good!

But… Please GOD, make these Studios nut budgets trend stop! Movie goers want good movies, they don’t care if it is made by 17 or 170 M. A 170 M budget for any movie is sick! Totally nuts!

A movie that makes this kind of money is a huge success, not a phenomenon but a huge success! Doesn’t matter if a crazy executive decision made it almost impossible of be profitable! It is a lot of tickets! I saw that some fans of Kristen Stewart saw it from 4 to 17 times. Can you imagine that? I saw it 3 times!

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KIMMY -

Thanks for explanation, Zac.

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lora -

I love kristen and movie Swath. Seen it twice for her :))

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zac -

@Maria,

I beg to differ. Kristen Stewart (not Charlize Theron) is top billed in “Snow White and the Huntsman.” She’s the one pictured in the article. And she is the one who plays Snow White!

Kristen Stewart’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” is just fine and perfectly accurate.

(Though, admittedly, if we’d had a Charlize Theron or Chris Hemsworth pic, we *might* have listed this post as Charlize Theron’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” or Chris Hemsworth’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.)

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Maria -

its rather “Charlize Theron’s Snow White”, huh, TAFG has become a Twifansite?

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agent99 -

SWATH budget was $170 million and if promo costs were around $90/$100 million then the movie’s already surpassed it’s financial obligations.

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zac -

@KIMMY,

Studios usually get around 50% of domestic box office gross; 40% from international take. I hope that clarifies things.

I’ve mentioned that before, but just in case, we’ll add that bit of info to the article to avoid confusion.

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KIMMY -

Zac Gille, I’m little confused here. If we take $170m budget adding to $90m marketing expense (I pick the top one), the final number is $260m. With the current total gross, it already profits $75.33m. Why does it have to wait until next week to “getting close to recover production budget…”???? Sorry for my English.

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jojo -

i wonder if they make a sequel are the going to slash the budget? the film is far from a flop, but you know universal was hoping for their huge monster hit like fox and the wb have. the budget of snow white is what is keeping from being a “monster hit.” they promoted this film everywhere, and it might not even make back it’s budget domestically. it probably will make 350 million no problem. it’s a bigger hit overseas, and it’s loosing spots here to other films that need the theater space.

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Jaz -

I loved the movie, but their was a huge question mark at the end that was not answered. How on earth did this film cost 170 million??? dats just dumb!! Are the creators of this movie on crack?? How can you possibly spend that much on a movie, and that to without a garuntee that it will be a hit. Sanders got lucky the movie pulled in money, what would he have done if it did’nt do well?? Would that mean 170 million dollers gone down the drain!

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jojo -

snow white isn’t a flop. it’s more of a modest hit. if universal is smart, and they do a sequel they will lower their budget. why this movie cost that much is beyond me. the cgi wasn’t that amazing to begin with.

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zac -

@April Dayton

Marketing / distribution expenses vary from movie to movie, studio to studio, of course, but the 50-60% rule of thumb applies to moderate-to-big-budget movies. “Snow White and the Huntsman” as well.

You, personally, may have seen less marketing for “Snow White and the Huntsman” than for “The Hunger Games.” But I can assure you that lots of people experienced (or perceived) the exact opposite. My point is that it’s impossible to judge how much money Universal spent plugging “Snow White and the Huntsman” based on one person’s (or a few people’s) experiences or perceptions.

Very inexpensive movies can have budgets much larger than their actual production costs, e.g., “Paranormal Activity.” But if a studio is spending millions on the production of a film, they’re certainly going to spend top $$$ to make sure that pays off. That’s invariably the case, *especially* for big-budget movies such as “Snow White and the Huntsman,” or “John Carter,” or “Men in Black III,” or “Avatar.”

Thanks for the Bloomberg article. If their information is accurate, then Lionsgate spent $10m more in marketing “The Hunger Games” than the amount initially reported. It also represents about 70% of the film’s (reported) production budget…

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zac -

@Space1999

True, “Snow White and the Huntsman” will not be able to recover its marketing / distribution budget at the worldwide box office. But most movies don’t. It’s not a “flop” at all.

Those big-budget movies get made because a) international box office b) ancillary revenues.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” will almost surely end up in the black once ancillary revenues are tallied. Those can double or triple a movie’s ultimate “gross.” (Depending, of course, on the movie, its box-office success, and the sort of ancillary revenues available. “Saw V” toys for babies?)

In fact, a number of box-office bombs have done quite well in terms of ancillary revenues. (Much like domestic bombs like “John Carter” and “Battleship” have performed well abroad.)

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zac -

@Ridley,

The data is out there, but how the powers-that-be at the studios are going to interpret it is impossible to say.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” wasn’t sold as a “Kristen Stewart movie” or a “Chris Hemsworth movie.”

Posters and billboards that I’ve seen — not only in the US — emphasized that the film’s *producer* was the same guy (or one of the guys) who produced Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”!
So…

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April Dayton -

My earlier comment on marketing costs is missing, so here I go again. The rule of thumb of marketing costs amounting to about 50% of a movie is typically used in relation to medium budget movies (around $70M to $110M). I am not sure if the same yardstick can be used for a movie with a budget of $170M. For comparison’s sake Hunger Games spent $55M on promoting the movie (as reported by Bloomberg) and Snow White did not promote as much as Hunger Games. So my guess would be around $45M to $50M marketing costs for Snow White.

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April Dayton -

Additionally, distributors tend to get a higher percentage of ancillary revenues such as DVD and Blueray (on an average, distributors get around 75% of DVD revenues). And SWATH has already sold TV rights to FX, so I don’t see the movie having trouble recovering its total cost. In fact after adding the ancillary revenues (including merchandising), the movie should end up with an okayish profit.

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April Dayton -

Hi Zac, I have heard the rule of thumb of marketing costs amounting to about 50% of a movie being used but only in relation to medium budget movies (around $70M to $110M). I am not sure if the same yardstick can be used for a movie with a budget of $170M. For comparison’s sake Bloomberg reports that Hunger Games spent $55M on promoting the movie (bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-30/lions-gate-has-quarterly-loss-on-summit-hunger-games-expenses.html) and Snow White did not promote as much as Hunger Games. So my guess would be around $45M to $50M marketing costs for Snow White.

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Space1999 -

Actually I see you made the same point about the marketing budget. I think the Universal execs, in the wake of Battleship, panicked and spent like there was no tomorrow to get a respectable box office number so that they would not face an immediate corporate firing squad. (I’ve seen $80-100 million floated around and it’s believable given the full court press marketng that preceeded the film). That may have to wait for the shareholder’s meeting. But then bombs like John Carter and Battleship made over $200 million overseas.

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Space1999 -

Except the film’s costs (production + marketing) have been placed in the $250 million plus range. So it lost money, especially as studios see less of the foreign gross. If the movie had been done properly with better reviews there was potential for a bona fide hit. Instead you have a critical failure that did not make back it’s budget. I smell sequel. :)

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Ridley -

Hi Zac, As you noted the 300M+ movies as a particular mark. What does this mean overall for either Stewart’s or Hemsworths’s careers? Pay raises? More green lighting power? Certifiable stardom? Or proof of bankability?

Ultimately, who will get the credit for SWATH? And from business-wise, was this a certifiable hit?

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jo -

@zoe, studios plan sequels all the time. many times they never see the light of day. as for snow white it’s a modest hit, but nothing to write home about. like the article says studios don’t see full profit from overseas, and this movie probably won’t make it’s budget back domestically.

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JP -

“[SWATH] has been holding up better abroad than in North America.”

That was the exact opposite for The Hunger Games. If that had had stronger overseas sales, it just might’ve sneaked into the $1B club.

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JP -

Cheryl: SWATH indeed cost $170m, likely not including promotion.

It’ll probably need to make around $350m worldwide as a result, which is a stretch at this point given that it’s just barely cracking nine figures domestically (granted, Madagascar and Prometheus have had a hand in that, but SWATH was also pretty lousy in the first place), and it has only nine international release dates remaining.

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altfilmguide -

Once again @JP, thanks for the comment.
Note: The reported $170m is the production budget, not including marketing/distribution expenses.
But there’s a good chance “Snow White and the Huntsman” will earn more than $340m worldwide. It has several major markets (France, Russia, Japan, Italy) where it can fare quite well. Also, it has been holding up better abroad than in North America.

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cheryl -

Did SWaTH cost 170 million to make? Who is reporting this? I don’t think Universal has said. I’ve never seen so many calculations to prove whether a film made money or not. If it wasn’t profitable I don’t think Universal would have embarked on SWaTH 2. Also some it’s possible that some of the costs of SWaTH can be applied over the sequel.

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JP -

“Stop laying into just Kristen’s film she doesn’t need another blog going after her.”

Did you even bother reading the entire article? It doesn’t “lay” into SWATH at all.

KStew fans really need to stop being so freakin’ defensive about anything that even remotely comes across as criticism.

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Zoe -

Funny Universal is already planning a sequel so they seem confident in Snow White even if no name blogs are trashing it’s take home. Why don’t you write this post for Men in Black or Prometheus? Stop laying into just Kristen’s film she doesn’t need another blog going after her.

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altfilmguide -

@JP
Thanks for the comment.

@Zoe
I don’t understand how anyone in his/her right mind could see this as “laying into Kristen’s film.”

The figures provided in this Zac Gille article don’t take into consideration “things like merchandise” because, as clearly explained in the piece, it’s about “Snow White and the Huntsman'”s *box office* — not ancillary revenues.

Anyhow, there’s a follow-up to this piece that will be posted on Tuesday. Those who enjoyed this article, stay tuned…

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Zoe -

Your figure doesn’t take into consideration things like merchandise which has been extensive for this movie.

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Spanglish In Lesbilandia -

I saw it last week for Charlize Theron ….but truth be told ….as much as I have a fondness for fairy tales… without Ms. Theron, I didn’t think it was worth seeing….Wicked Stepmother made the movie!

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Kara -

Some people discounted the power of the Twihards. We are still around people and we love Kristen Stewart.

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Tico -

Saw the movie today, 20 people in the theater, way too long. Needed much more 7 dwarves (very good actors), Hemsorth I liked, like the plot turn. The prince was prettier than Snow White who needs some major dental work before she gets any more close ups. Did I mention it was too long zzz…

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Janine -

Pretty impressive for a good old 2D movie :) Watching Snow White and The Huntsman for a second time tomorrow

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