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‘Snow White’ rising at Friday box office

Universal tentpole on track for roughly $55 million weekend

UPDATE:Snow White and the Huntsman” is faring better than expected at the U.S. box office, with Friday afternoon returns pacing the Universal fairy tale actioner at $19 million to $21 million for the day and $50 million to $56 million for the weekend.

The numbers are a good sign for U, which downplayed expectations Thursday for the big-budget tentpole, projecting a mid-$30 million weekend that would have undoubtedly meant June gloom for the studio. But “Huntsman” came on strong with $1.38 million in midnight runs Thursday from 1,092 locations, a performance buoyed by “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart, whose fans are known to show up early.

Co-starring Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, “Huntsman” was critical for Universal, which just two weeks ago suffered through a dismal $25 million domestic bow for “Battleship.” Reviews for “Huntsman,” the $170 million-plus 2D tentpole, were mixed while early tracking also suggested a lack of interest among males. Still, “Snow White” accounted for half of Fandango’s ticket sales Thursday and the late-night showings indicate Stewart’s “Twilight” resume, combined with strong female tracking, are working in the fairy tale’s favor.

Popular on Variety

“My little girls are dying to see this movie,” one exec at a rival studio says, warning that the imminent arrival of “Madagascar 3” and “Prometheus” could take a bite out of Snow White’s apple.

Produced by Joe Roth, “Snow White and the Huntsman” launches today in 3,722 theaters Stateside and 45 territories internationally.

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