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‘Snow White’ is expected to be fairest of them all at box office

By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — There probably will be a happily-ever-after ending for “Snow White and the Huntsman” at the box office this weekend.

The adaptation of the classic fairy-tale — the second take on ““Snow White“ to hit theaters this year — is expected to open with a solid sum of $40 million to $45 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. The studio behind the film, Universal Pictures, is projecting a softer opening of between $30 million and $35 million.

Either way, the movie should open with far more than March’s “Mirror Mirror,” Relativity Media’s more comedic spin on Snow White starring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts, which launched with a weak $18 million domestically and ultimately collected $62 million. However, “Mirror Mirror” had a budget of around $100 million, while “Snow White” cost Universal $170 million to produce.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, “Snow White” has so far earned middling reviews; on Thursday, the film had a 52 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming close after the disappointing performance of Universal’s $209 million productionn“Battleship,” there’s a lot on “Snow White” for the studio.

“Snow White” is Universal’s second-most expensive release of 2012 and part of a new strategy at the studio to spend big on a handful of big event films aimed at worldwide audiences.

The movie marks an important moment in the career of Stewart, best known for her role as Bella Swan in the mega-popular “Twilight” franchise. With the vampire series coming to a close this November, the 22-year-old actress has yet to prove she can open a movie outside of the “Twilight” pictures.

Since the first “Twilight” film hit theaters in 2008, Stewart has only appeared in three other movies, the most successful of which was the 2009 comedy “Adventureland,” which ended up collecting $16 million. Since, she has played Joan Jett in “The Runaways” and a stripper in “Welcome to the Rileys,” but both films flopped at the box office. The latter movie grossed only $158,898.

This weekend, “Snow White” is also opening in 45 foreign countries, including Brazil, Mexico and in Britain.

In limited release, Arc Entertainment is opening its 1920s Cristero War picture “For Greater Glory” in over 700 theaters. The movie, which stars Andy Garcia as a retired military general who joins the resistance during the Mexican civil war, is expected to gross around $2 million on its opening weekend. That’s about how much Cinedigm’s dance musical “Battlefield America” is likely to collect as it opens in 200 locations.

Meanwhile, “Piranha 3DD,” from Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films, will play in 75 cinemas. The kitschy horror flick is a sequel to 2010’s “Piranha 3D,” which grossed a surprisingly respectable $83 million worldwide. The new film will also be released Friday on a number of video-on-demand platforms, including Amazon, iTunes and Xbox Live.

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