The box office can be a funny thing. Last weekend, ‘Men in Black 3‘ made $55 million and was considered a disappointment. This weekend, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘ pulled in $56 million and it’s considered a roaring success. As bizarre as that sounds, it all makes sense when you look at the details.

1. Snow White and the Huntsman: $56,255,000 ($56,255,000)

2. Men in Black 3: $29,300,000 ($112,300,000)

3. The Avengers: $20,272,000 ($552,737,000)

4. Battleship: $4,810,000 ($55,123,000)

5. The Dictator: $4,725,000 ($50,835,000)

6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: $4,600,000 ($25,497,000)

7. What to Expect When You’re Expecting: $4,430,000 ($30,723,000)

8. Dark Shadows: $3,860,000 ($70,834,000)

9.Chernobyl Diaries: $3,045,000 ($14,416,000)

10. For Greater Glory: $1,800,000 ($1,800,000)

Look at it this way: ‘Men in Black 3′ cost about $100 million more than ‘Snow White and the Huntsman,’ is the third in a successful series of blockbuster films and stars the biggest movie star in the world. ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is cheaper (but $170 million is certainly not cheap), it’s a new property (despite being based on an old fairy tale) and its stars may be recognizable faces, but they are certainly not movie stars. ‘Men in Black 3′ looked like surefire thing, so its opening was underwhelming. ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ was a big question mark, so this opening is worthy of a brief champagne party at the Universal offices.

If Kristen Stewart is ever going to stop being Bella Swan and Chris Hemsworth is ever going to stop being Thor, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is an important step. Its success means that audiences are getting to see them play new characters, which means audiences are probably ready to come to a movie for them instead of the characters they’re playing. It’s a fear that plagues everyone from Robert Pattinson to Daniel Radcliffe: if you play a character people love, you’ve got to do everything in your power to not be that character for the rest of your career.

$56 million is a solid opening, but the next few weeks will be the real test for ‘Snow White and the Huntsman.’ It’s still a distant climb to $200 million, which the film will need to crack if it wants to make back every penny spent making and selling it. A strong opening for an expensive film is only a good thing if the film grows strong legs (see ‘The Hunger Games‘ and ‘The Avengers‘).

In the number two spot, ‘Men in Black 3′ continued to do solid, if unremarkable numbers with $29 million, bring its grand total to $112 million. That’s pretty nice for two weeks, but it’s still less than you’d expect from a Will Smith movie that opened over Memorial Day weekend. This is another film that cost so much that it’ll require legs to stay alive. With a reported budget of $280 million, it needs to gross $300 million domestically to be a success and that just isn’t in the cards. International grosses will prevent it from being an embarrassment (it’s made nearly $400 million worldwide), but this may be proof that Smith’s power as an instant draw may be coming to an end.

Even though it’s now in the number three spot, ‘The Avengers’ is, once again, the real story this week. With a weekend take of $20 million and a total gross of $552 million, Marvel’s superhero team has crossed ‘The Dark Knight’ to become the third highest grossing film of all time. $600 million and the number two spot held by ‘Titanic’ are inevitable unless something goes horrible wrong. The film will definitely stay strong throughout June, but ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ will undoubtedly remove any wind left in its sales in a few weeks’ time. Go, ‘Avengers, go!

The rest of the box office is pretty much the same as where we left it last week. ‘The Dictator‘ and ‘Battleship‘ continue to match each other ($50 million and $55 million respectively), which is bad for the former and disastrous for the latter. Remember when we said that ‘Battleship’ would undoubtedly gross more than ‘John Carter’? Well, that may not happen. Ouch. The one good thing about the gross of ‘Dark Shadows‘ is that its currently wedged between ‘Chernobyl Diaries‘ and ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ which make its paltry $70 million gross look good in comparison. Like last week, the unexpected box office hero is ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ which rose to the sixth spot in the top ten with a gross of $4 million. With $25 million in the bank, the film has only continued to solidify its sleeper hit status.

In other news, ‘Piranha 3DD‘ opened in 86 theaters and only grossed $179,000, proof that most Americans are simply not prepared to publically pay for a movie that has “3DD” in the title. However, the film was released simultaneously on VOD, so that may be where the most of the money went.

Next week sees the release of ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ (a surefire hit with your kids) and ‘Prometheus” (highly anticipated by hardcore movie geeks, but who else?). We’ll see you then.

More From News Radio 710 KEEL