Universal gets happy ending with $56 mil

Universal has to be relieved — if not over the moon — about the $95.6 million worldwide bow for “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a $170 million-plus tentpole that U suggested late last week could follow “Battleship” down the drain.

Right around the time Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was declaring “Battleship” a bona fide bomb at a Friday conference, auds were picking up the track of “Huntsman.” Suddenly U’s late-week estimate of a dismal mid-$30 millions domestic debut — about what it predicted for “Battleship,” before it sank to $25 million — looked lower than lowballed.

In the end, the female-skewing “Huntsman” posted a $56.3 million domestic debut, thanks largely to men, who picked up interest late to make up a robust 47% of auds. Young people turned up, too, with 48% of attendees under 30.

“Everything but ‘Avengers’ suffered from not understanding the marketplace,” said U distribution topper Nikki Rocco. “We’re glad that’s behind us.”

Pic’s respectable perf stops a string of summer stumbles, including “Battleship,” Warner Bros.’ “Dark Shadows” and Sony’s “Men in Black 3,” which opened modestly in the U.S. last weekend but is redeeming itself in a big way abroad — it fell only 41% for $79.1 million in its offshore soph sesh, easily taking the international crown. Foreign markets account for 71% of “MIB3’s” nearly $400 million worldwide cume in 10 days.

“Huntsman” was second overseas with a so-so $39.3 million, a number that surely would have been higher had 3D-shy Universal presented the pic in the international-friendly format. Though it’s curious that “Huntsman” bucked the trend of overseas openings easily eclipsing domestic, its 49-market start did not include 18 territories, including Russia and Japan (U is still awaiting word on whether China will allow “Huntsman” to play there).

Rocco said there was never talk of a 3D conversion for “Huntsman,” though the format is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for offshore success — something Paramount clearly had in mind when it pulled “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” from the crowded July calendar to add a dimension.

Fox’s “Prometheus” landed in 13 territories this weekend including Russia, France and the U.K., where the sci-fi thriller saw the biggest three-day opening for a Ridley Scott film in that market with $10 million. Altogether, “Prometheus” grossed $35 million one week ahead of its Stateside bow.

Not to be counted out, Disney’s “The Avengers” earned $20.3 million domestically to become the third highest grossing film in U.S. history with $552.7 million. It rang up another $12.4 million internationally to become the third highest grossing film globally with $1.355 billion.

In the specialty market, “Moonrise Kingdom” continues to build on the audience that earned it the per-screen average record for live-action films last frame. After expanding to 16 locations, “Moonrise” picked up $849,000, which Focus distribution prexy Jack Foley attributed to strong word of mouth and a strategic slow rollout. Foley says “Moonrise” should hit its highest screen count by July 4.

Arc Entertainment opened “For Greater Glory” this weekend at 757 playdates for a $1.8 million gross and a spot in the domestic top 10. The Weinstein Co.’s “The Intouchables” continues to do OK with a $7,000 per-screen average after expanding by 46 locations, and TWC newcomer “Piranha 3DD” opened quietly on 86 screens to a $179,000 three-day total.

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