The Huntsman: Winter's War
Courtesy of Universal

“The Hunstman: Winter’s War” debuted to $1 million in Thursday night screenings, according to studio estimates.

That’s slightly less than the $1.3 million that the fantasy adventure’s predecessor, 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” grossed in previews. The Universal Pictures release screened in 2,645 theaters with showings beginning at 7 p.m. It will expand to 3,791 locations on Friday.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is expected to pull in between $22 million to $25 million, less than half of the first film’s $56.2 million domestic debut. Disney’s “The Jungle Book” is expected to keep its first place position with slightly more than $50 million. It debuted to $103.3 million last weekend and has continued to play well throughout the week. Besides “The Huntsman” sequel, there are no other major studio wide releases entering the multiplexes this weekend.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is a prequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman.” It brings back original stars Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron and adds franchise newcomers Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt. Kristen Stewart, who starred as Snow White in the first film, did not return. Her romance with “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders seeped into the tabloids. Sanders was married at the time and Stewart was in a relationship with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson. Sanders was replaced on “The Huntsman” sequel by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the first film’s visual-effects supervisor.

The story of battling rival queens cost $115 million to produce. Reviewers have not been kind, but Universal is hoping that the band of A-list actresses will help it appeal to females who might not be interested in Mowgli’s adventures in the jungle.

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