Like mirrors, the numbers don’t lie.
The fairest #1 movie of them all this weekend is Snow White and The Huntsman. A solidly, stonking $ 20.3 million on Friday, plus midnight screenings worth $ 1.383 million – looked set to deliver a domestic B.O of $ 55.8 million.
But with Saturday’s take of $ 21.5 million, Snow White and The Huntsman’s actual domestic opening weekend B.O. inflated to $ 56,217,700.
Factoring in $ 39.3 million international, SWATH’s global haul pumps up to $ 95.5 million. Defying the augurs of some and exceeding the expectations of many, it looks like Universal’s gamble on first time feature director, Rupert Sanders, has paid off – and it’s not over yet.
Following the trajectory of this weekend, the film is expected to grab between $250 – $275 million total. Effectively making it the movie that bucked the post-Avengers slump, in a market still reeling from that juggernaut’s $1.4 billion worldwide bank (incl this weekend’s $20.3 mil domestic).
SWATH’s figures are significant for two further reasons:
Firstly, the film opened sans a 3-D version or higher-ticket price options, variables that considerably amplify B.O.
Secondly, SWATH’s $ 56.21 million gross is indicative of the film’s appeal beyond the much denigrated ‘older women’ demographic. Variety reports men made up 47% of the audience and 48 % of attendees were below the age of 30.
Even allowing for Universal’s conservative estimates that put SWATH’s opening domestic B.O. at around $ 30-$ 60 mil (depending on the source), this weekend’s gross is undeniably healthy for a film with a reported $ 170 million+ budget and attendant marketing.
Reutersnotes, “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.”
Suffering in the backsplash of The Avengers – Battleship, Dark Shadows, The Dictator – failed to light box office fire, and even Men in Black 3 with its $ 54 million opening last week, is a less-than-overwhelming punch for an existing franchise with a still popular leading man.
Considering one retelling of the Snow White story – Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror (domestic debut $ 18,132,085, before taking $ 160,443,139 worldwide) – has already been and gone, the fact that there was even appetite for another Snow White speaks volumes.
It says this: An old story is still a new story if it speaks to something audiences want to see and hear. Reviews may have mixed, but enough critics had great things to say – and nearly all have been surprised by SWATH’s box office this weekend. One wonders why.
Surely The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga have taught us one thing: Fandoms are powerful. And if sufficiently harnessed, they can move mountains.
Chris Hemsworth may have swung the axe, but it was Stewart that swung the audience vote. This weekend, her massive fanbase – many of whom connected with her star long before Twilight, and certainly afterwards – came out in force to show the color of their money.
Theron and Hemsworth, though big names in the game, don’t inspire anything like the level of passion and sense of solidarity Stewart’s fans feel. Combine that with an across-the-generations, pop culture appeal – and it’s clear this 22 year-old can command a sizeable army on and off screen.
As Vincenzo Tagle, Anthony Scott and many others have noted, Snow White’s journey from imprisonment to liberation to leader is, and will continue to be, a reflection of a gathering tide of female force in film. This year’s Cannes Film Festival may not have included any female directors, but for actresses these are interesting times.
Inside the forms of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, Jody Foster’s Sarah Tobias, Milla Jojovich’s Alice, Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen – beats the heart of ancient heroines: Gaia, Deborah, Boadicea, Joan of Arc among them.
In their way, each of the above expresses the most potent feminine principle. And it’s not just in film, but music too. Titans like Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone, have given way to Madonna, Pink, Bjork, Florence Welch, Beyonce and Gaga – and it goes further.
None of these women mentioned comes from nowhere. Looking at each – including Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron – one sees a spectrum of family backgrounds. Solid, broken, trauma-filled, difficult, nurturing – it’s all there.
Because the truth is, there is no one way for a strong, inspirational female to emerge. But the road is well lit now. Despite the pervasive, submissive conditioning still present in the global culture all females exist in – somehow – the cream still rises.
Millions got behind SWATH this weekend and there’s a real sense this could continue. Around the world, parents, kids, teens, young men and women – and older – piled into multiplexes with one thing on their mind. They wanted to see Snow succeed.
Because when she does, we all do.
Snow White and The Huntsman stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Clafin and is playing in theaters on general release now. Rated PG-13.