Tuesday, June 5, 2012


(Reuters) - "Snow White and the Huntsman" broke the spell of lacklustre performances by many big-budget films this summer season at movie theatres, grabbing $56.3 million in its first weekend to top "Men in Black 3," according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The film, a dark and sometimes violent take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, collected an additional $39.3 million in 45 international markets where it also opened this weekend.

The solid debut led Universal Pictures' "Snow White" to escape the fate of "Battleship," also distributed by Universal, and Warner Bros' vampire film "Dark Shadows," both of which fell victim to blockbuster "The Avengers."

"I'm very happy about it. The uniqueness of the campaign from the get-go made (the film) stand out as not just the quintessential fairy tale; it was telling a very different story," Nikki Rocco, president of domestic distribution at Universal Pictures, told Reuters.

"Men in Black 3," which opened last week, collected $29.3 million in ticket sales in U.S. and Canadian theatres to fall to the No. 2 position on U.S. and Canadian box office charts.

Starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as black-suited secret agents, together again for the first time since 2002, "MIB 3" ticket sales slipped by 58 percent from its opening weekend. It has collected $274.6 million in overseas markets since its release.

"Snow White and the Huntsman," which starred Kristen Stewart from box office hit "The Twilight Saga" vampire films, Oscar-winner Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth from "The Avengers," is the second film this year inspired by the classic fairy tale.

In March, "Mirror Mirror," starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen, failed to gain large audiences with $18 million on its first weekend and $62 million in domestic ticket sales.

Producers of that film rushed to beat "Snow White and the Huntsman" to the screen, changing their opening date from June to March.

"The filmmakers, producers and the talent knew how different this film would be. We had no concern whatsoever," said Rocco. "Mirror Mirror" was ... targeted to little girls. They tried to make a comedy of it. That's not what we were intending to do."

Hollywood experts had predicted that "Snow White and the Huntsman" would open with a relatively paltry $35 million in ticket sales, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.

The film, which was made for $170 million, needed $42 million in ticket sales over the weekend to break-even, according to analyst Tony Wible, managing director of Janney Montgomery Scott.

A film generally completes its run with three times its opening weekend gross, and its studio gets about half the ticket sales revenue. A film also generates revenue from home video and other sales after its theatrical run.

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