LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Snow White & the Huntsman" turned out to be a fairer box-office beauty than Hollywood anticipated.
According to studio estimates Sunday, Universal Pictures' action yarn inspired by the fairy-tale princess debuted strongly at No. 1 with $56.3 million domestically. That's about $20 million higher than industry expectations.
Without the built-in business that generally goes with a sequel, "Snow White" was a question mark as a draw for young males who typically make up most of the action crowd. The movie wound up drawing a fairly even audience, with female fans accounting for 53 percent of viewers.
"We weren't even thinking we could do beyond $40 million, especially for a title where you didn't know if the males are going to show up. And they did," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal.
Overseas, "Snow White" added $39.3 million in 45 markets, putting the worldwide total at $95.6 million for the movie that stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.
"Snow White" bumped Sony's "Men in Black 3" from the top spot and into second-place with $29.3 million. The Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones sequel raised its domestic total to $112.3 million after two weekends and added $78.6 million overseas for an international take of $274.6 million and a worldwide gross of $386.9 million.
Disney's superhero sensation "The Avengers" remained strong at No. 3 with $20.3 million, lifting its domestic total to $552.7 million. "The Avengers" climbed past "The Dark Knight" at $533.3 million to become No. 3 all-time on the domestic revenue chart, behind "Avatar" at $760.5 million and "Titanic" at $658.5 million.
Adding $12.4 million overseas, "The Avengers" pushed its international haul to $802.5 million and its worldwide earnings to $1.36 billion. That raised it past last year's "Harry Potter" finale at $1.33 billion to put "The Avengers" at No. 3 in all-time revenue worldwide, also behind only "Avatar" ($2.8 billion) and "Titanic" ($2.2 billion).
Ridley Scott's "Alien" forerunner "Prometheus," from 20th Century Fox, got off to a solid start overseas with $35 million in 15 markets ahead of its U.S. release Friday.
Though not a direct prequel, "Prometheus" stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Theron in a sci-fi adventure that takes place decades before the action of "Alien" and is set in a similar world as that 1979 horror tale from filmmaker Scott.
In one weekend, "Snow White & the Huntsman" pulled in nearly as much as the $62.4 million that the year's previous Snow White adventure, "Mirror Mirror," took in domestically over its entire run.
"Mirror Mirror" was a fairy-tale comedy that appealed mainly to female crowds. Drawing well among male and female fans, "Snow White & the Huntsman" is an all-out action flick, with "Twilight" star Stewart as the princess, aided by a rugged man of arms ("Thor" star Hemsworth) to lead a battle against the evil queen (Theron).
Despite strong revenues for the top-three movies, domestic business was down for the third-straight weekend compared to last summer. Receipts totaled $142 million, off 11 percent compared to the same weekend a year ago, when "X-Men: First Class" led with $55.1 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
Overall revenues are running neck-and-neck with the summer season of 2011, when Hollywood took in record cash between the first weekend of May and Labor Day. Box-office analysts had expected this summer to hurtle beyond that record, but so far, only a handful of films have paid off.