Forecast: 'Snow White' Goes to War This Weekend
Midnight Update: Snow White and the Huntsman got off to a strong start last night, earning $1.383 million from midnight shows at 1,092 locations. That's a bit behind MIB 3 ($1.55 million at 2,232 theaters), but ahead of other recent midnight openers Wrath of the Titans ($1 million) and Dark Shadows ($550,000).

Before assuming that this means Snow White is destined for an opening weekend close to $50 million, it's worth remembering that star Kristen Stewart has headlined three of the top four biggest midnight openings ever (the last three Twilight movies). Regardless, the fantasy epic is now guaranteed to take first place with a debut north of $30 million.

Forecast: The first weekend of June is typically a tough time to open a movie, given the usual strength of the late May holdovers. How fortuitous, then, that the only major studio release this weekend—Snow White and the Huntsman—is opening on the heels of MIB 3, which is performing fine enough but isn't sucking all the oxygen out of the air. This should give Snow White plenty of room to breathe at its 3,772 locations, and it will likely claim the top spot at the box office this weekend.

Last year, both Universal and Relativity announced Snow White projects around the same time, and there was subsequently a bit of release date musical chairs between the two competing titles. Ultimately, Relativity won out on the release date battle by pushing their movie Mirror Mirror so early that there was literally no way Snow White and the Huntsman could be finished in time to beat it to the gate. Mirror Mirror turned out to be a non-issue for Huntsman, though—the movie has earned just $62.4 million at the domestic box office, and was so completely different in tone and visual palette that it didn't provide much of a conflict.

From the epic, visually-arresting first teaser trailer, it was clear that Snow White and the Huntsman was going to be aiming for a much older audience than Mirror Mirror. Subsequent material has continued that push, with the latest round of commercials showcasing the bold interpretation of story elements like "The Forest," "The Dark Army," "The Troll," and more. This has clearly been designed to target young men who drive box office receipts for dark fantasy movies, but as a result the Snow White character (played by Twilight's Kristen Stewart) has been fairly marginalized. This suggests Universal is banking on women turning out because Snow White is in the title, though assuming the target audience is already on board has backfired recently (What to Expect When You're Expecting with its "Dudes Group" campaign).

Universal is anticipating low-to-mid $30 millions based on tracking. They have already committed to developing a sequel, though obviously the future of that depends largely on the movie's box office performance. Even if the movie doesn't perform great domestically, though, its epic scale, strong visuals and straightforward narrative should translate to strong business overseas, and its kicking off its foreign run this weekend in 45 territories including South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Mexican historical drama For Greater Glory also opens nationwide this weekend at 757 locations. The movie tells the story of the Cristero War (1926-29), and should appeal to Catholic, Hispanic audiences. Arc Entertainment has bought enough ad space that awareness is high, though its' still a niche product that could have trouble reaching the Top 10.

Weekend Forecast (June 1-3)

Snow White - $39.8 million

MIB 3 - $26.2 million (-52%)

The Avengers - $21.5 million (-41%)

Bar for Success

Universal Pictures opened Robin Hood to $36.1 million two years ago—it's hard to see a reason why Snow White and the Huntsman should open below that mark.

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