Any worry that Snow White and the Huntsman would only appeal to young girls wound up being completely unfounded—the revisionist fairy tale played well across all demographics, and easily claimed the top spot at the box office this weekend. MIB 3 and The Avengers did fine business in second and third, while Mexican historical drama For Greater Glory wasn’t all that great in its nationwide release. The Top 12 earned an estimated $135.5 million this weekend, which is off 12 percent from the same period last year.
Snow White and the Huntsman opened at 3,773 locations and grossed a strong estimated $56.26 million. That’s the fourth-highest debut this year behind The Avengers, The Hunger Games and The Lorax, and above last weekend’s MIB 3. It’s also more than Universal’s Battleship has made through 17 days ($55.1 million), and is close to previous Snow White movie Mirror Mirror’s entire run ($62.5 million).
Among other comparable titles, Snow White obviously didn’t come close to Alice in Wonderland’s $116.1 million, though it was a hair ahead of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($55 million) and crushed Universal’s Robin Hood ($36.1 million), which was also a grittier take on a classic story.
The stars aligned nicely for Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend. The first major advantage it had was lack of competition: MIB 3 has been doing solid business, but it isn’t all-consuming, and the May 18 releases (Battleship, The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting) combined for a meager $14 million this weekend.
That being said, Snow White’s biggest asset was Universal’s savvy marketing campaign. Initial previews emphasized the impressive visuals while alluding to the classic fairy tale story, which piqued interest in the project early. Closer to release, Universal made a concerted effort to get men out to a movie with “Snow White” in the title by unleashing the “This is No Fairy Tale” set of ads that played up the darker, revisionist nature of the movie. That was a risky move—Lionsgate got punished last month for trying to get men interested in an ensemble pregnancy comedy—but men wound up accounting for a very solid 47 percent of Snow White’s attendance this weekend.
Perhaps more surprising, though, is that the audience skewed older (52 percent were 30 years of age and up), meaning Snow White had true four-quadrant appeal. It does remain unclear if Snow White will hold up well in coming weeks, though: it received a middling “B” CinemaScore, and there are some very competitive titles (Prometheus, Rock of Ages, among others) on the way.