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Box office preview: 'Snow White and the Huntsman' ready to take bite out of competition

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Snow White And The Huntsman
Universal Pictures

After a sluggish Memorial Day weekend, Hollywood is offering audiences only one new major release this weekend. Luckily, it’s the fairest in the land.

The revisionist action-adventure fairy tale Snow White and the Huntsman should have no difficulty dethroning Men in Black 3 and taking the box-office crown. But how big will the movie be? Snow White could very well surprise the industry with a larger-than-anticipated debut, but I’m not counting on it. Instead, I’m anticipating a respectable opening in the mid-40s. Here are my weekend predictions:

1. Snow White and the Huntsman: $45 million

Though the PG-13 movie has earned mediocre reviews, it looks great, and that’s its biggest selling point. Universal Pictures hired Rupert Sanders, a British commercials director known for his visual command, and spent $170 million on the production. But the money is up there on the screen. And unlike the studio’s Battleship, which might as well have been called Transformers 4, Snow White brings something fresh to the table. That’s especially important since Hollywood’s other Snow White picture, the more comedic and family friendly Mirror Mirror, reached the finish line first.

Interest for Snow White is the highest among younger women, which makes sense considering the presence of Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart and the fairy tale source material. But Universal has also been selling the movie as a war epic, and recent commercials have emphasized the film’s action sequences and the involvement of Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth, who’s so far had a solid year between The Avengers and The Cabin in the Woods.

Working against Snow White is the fact that Stewart has yet to successfully open a film outside the Twilight saga, and Charlize Theron hasn’t been much of a box-office magnet either. The movie will also lose some action fans to Men in Black 3 and that everlasting juggernaut The Avengers, and parents might deem it too intense for young children. There’s also the matter that every big release since The Avengers has underperformed. So even though my gut is saying it’ll top $50 million this weekend, those reservations have convinced me to stick with a more reasonable $45 million prediction.

2. Men in Black 3: $27 million

Ten years after the last entry, Men in Black 3 opened to a solid if somewhat disappointing $54.6 million last weekend (or $69.3 million when including Memorial Day). Men in Black II dropped 53 percent its second weekend, and while Men in Black 3 earned an encouraging B+ rating from CinemaScore participants, a decline of about 50 percent should be expected — especially since movies frequently suffer big second-weekend drops the week after Memorial Day.

3. The Avengers: $25 million

So far The Avengers has managed to drop a smaller percentage each subsequent weekend, going from declines of 50 percent to 46 percent to 34 percent. I think the trend will continue for at least one more week, as the blockbuster should fall around 32 percent this weekend. The Marvel superhero movie has earned $529.7 million domestically, and it should pass The Dark Knight‘s $533.3 million on Friday to become the third-highest-grossing film of all time.

4. Battleship: $5 million

The naval bomb plunged 57 percent last weekend, and is even trailing the likes of John Carter. (In 13 days, John Carter grossed $56.5 million compared to Battleship‘s $49.4 million.) Set your coordinates for another drop of around 55 percent.

5. The Dictator: $4.9 million

Fifth place could easily go to the British geriatric comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which collected $6.4 million last weekend at 1,233 theaters. Fox Searchlight is adding 62 locations this weekend, and word of mouth for the movie is strong. A 25 percent decline would result in a $4.8 million weekend.

But I’m giving the edge to The Dictator, which fell a not-too-shabby 47 percent last weekend. Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno, by comparison, dropped 73 percent its second weekend, so the word of mouth for The Dictator is likely not as acerbic. Another 47 percent decline would give the movie a $4.9 million weekend — just barely enough for fifth place.

Read more:

Is Will Smith still the box-office king he was a few years ago?

Box office report: ‘Men in Black 3’ tops Memorial Day weekend with $70M

‘Snow White’ costume designer talks Charlize Theron’s spooky dresses — VIDEO

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