Last weekend, the domestic box office continued its trend of post-“Avengers” under-performers, as “Men in Black 3” opened to a disappointing $70m. In my predictions column, I originally figured that the movie was destined to break the ongoing series of consecutive bombs, simply by virtue of the fact that moviegoers were bound to eventually need something new to watch. Not so much. It’s tempting to pull a repeat and argue the same for this weekend, but I’m not going to. My prediction for the only new opener, “Snow White and the Huntsman”, is going to be conservative, damn it!
We’ve already had a Snow White picture open this year (“Mirror Mirror”), but its box office performance isn’t a good comparison because it skewed romantic/comedic, whereas this is an out-and-out action movie. That poses a big challenge for prognostication, because it is somewhat rare for an action movie to star a lead who almost exclusively appeals to females (Kristen Stewart). There will definitely be a “Twilight”-related stigma for male viewers on this picture. So what would be comparable films? There are plenty of action movies with female protagonists–the “Kill Bills,” the “Aliens,” etc.–but they’re all made for guys. This is somewhat uncharted territory.
The obvious comparison would be “The Hunger Games”–recent action, uniquely targeted more towards younger females–but there’s no way that “Snow White in the Huntsman” will perform anywhere near that phenom. “The Hunger Games” had a huge pre-existing following and so much more media coverage to fuel its record-shattering performance. Interestingly, I see parallels between “Snow White and the Huntsman” and another Scholastic young adult series featuring battles: “The Chronicles of Narnia,” particularly “Prince Caspian,” which likewise opened in the summer.
I see the teen girl audience that will go see “Snow White and the Huntsman” for Stewart as being comparable in size to the core Christian demographic that went and saw “Prince Caspian.” Both films carry appeal for families with older children. Both are not highly appealing to males ages 16+. Both have origins in popular literary works that were written decades ago. So it’s a pretty good comparison. Of course, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is rated PG-13 and has more violence than “Prince Caspian,” excluding nearly all kids ages 10 and under, who may have been able to see the latter film. So shave 15 percent off “Prince Caspian”’s $55m opening weekend and you get $46.8 million for “Snow White and the Huntsman” — a nice middle-of-the-road prediction.
There is also an array of independent titles being dumped into megaplexes this weekend–from “Battlefield America” to “HIGH School” to “Piranha 3DD” to “Crooked Arrows” to “Hardflip”–and all but one (“For Greater Glory”) is likely to tank and disappear. “For Greater Glory,” which stars Eva Longoria and Andy Garcia, does look semi-promising, however, because the Latino community routinely supports made for their own and because distributor Arc Entertainment was able to leverage solid openings for its first two releases last year, “The Way” and “Seven Days in Utopia.” Both ended up grossing $4.4m total box office, and this one should end up around there, too. Its opening will be more front-loaded, though — likely accounting for around 40% of the total. That would put said opening at $1.8 million, good enough for tenth place on the weekend.
My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:
- Snow White and the Huntsman … $46.8m
- Men in Black 3 … $27.7m -60.0%
- The Avengers … $25.0m -47.0%
- Battleship … $6.9m -50.4%
- Dark Shadows … $5.6m -40.7%
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel … $5.5m -34.2%
- The Dictator … $5.2m -54.6%
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting … $4.8m -45.5%
- Chernobyl Diaries … $3.3m -64.7%
- For Greater Glory … $1.8m