'Snow White and the Huntsman' is fairest of them all at the box office

5:08 PM, Jun 3, 2012   |    comments
'Snow White and the Huntsman,' starring Charlize Theron, was No. 1 at the box office in its opening weekend.
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(USA TODAY) -- Snow White and the Huntsman struck gold this weekend, taking first place at theaters and scoring the second-highest debut of summer so far.

Huntsman collected $56.3 million according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com, second to The Avengers' bow of $207 million last month.

The PG-13 twist on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale scored a "stellar opening," says David Mumpower of Boxofficeprophets.com. The debut eclipses projections of most analysts, who forecast the film would gross $45 million.

Stars Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart were the keys to drawing teens, says Mumpower. Hemsworth also stars in The Avengers, while Stewart has anchored the Twilight series.

Stewart, in particular, has become blue-chip box office stock.

"At the tender age of 22, (Stewart) already possesses three $280 million-plus box office hits," Mumpower says. "To put this in perspective, consider Julia Roberts has never had a $200 million-plus blockbuster."

Huntsman earned mediocre reviews, drawing a thumbs-up from 46% of the nation's critics, says survey site Rottentomatoes.com. Yet 74% of audiences liked it, according to the site.

The drama knocked off the comedy Men In Black 3. The re-teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones took second place this weekend with $29.3 million. The movie has made $112.3 million in 10 days.

The Avengers was third with $20.3 million. The superhero tale became the third highest grossing film of all time with $552.7 million. The Avengers passed The Dark Knight, the 2008 Batman installment that has earned $533.3 million.

Battleship was fourth over the weekend with $4.8 million, followed by The Dictator with $4.7 million.

Huntsman's opening marks a strong rebound for Universal Pictures, still licking its wounds after Battleship's disappointing debut of $25.5 million May 18.

Final figures are due Sunday.

Huntsman helped steady Hollywood's box office stumble of late. Ticket sales are up 10% over the same period last year, while attendance is up 12%, according to Hollywood.com.

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