This is – in the scheme of the summer – something of a breather week. But that’s usually because there’s normally a huge movie for memorial day weekend that no one wants to butt heads with. And though a $70 Million dollar four-day sounds impressive, in the new box office math, that makes Men in Black III a weak title. Snow White and the Huntsman should get the weekend, even if it underperforms.

That said, this is looking like a lousy summer for Universal, as this will be following the domestic failure of Battleship. And though we’ll have our review of Huntsman shortly, the word out of screenings has been mixed to negative (on top of this being the second Snow White film in the last four months). Fortunately for the title, it’s the only new thing out, and it being the summer season, it seems likely that it will do slightly better than expected if only because of the limited options.

Most people who wanted to see The Avengers have seen it, and though there may be some new faces for the picture this weekend, it’s a month old at this point. But between Madagascar 3 and Prometheus next weekend, White is going to be toast quick, and will probably not make it to the nine digit mark in the states. But it should win the weekend.

If this summer has shown anything it’s that audiences are going to things they like, and ignoring the rest. That is, if we accept the new math. Films like Battleship, Dark Shadows, and The Dictator will not cross $100 Million. Wes Anderson’s most successful film grossed $52 Million (The Royal Tennenbaums) so it’s all relative, but in the scheme of things these summer titles are meant to do $100 to $200 domestic. Indeed, it’s hard to look at MIB3, which will cross $100 this weekend, as a success because it was not made for a budget that makes those numbers profitable. Where if a film like The Dictator did those numbers ten years ago, it’s possible there would be sequel talk – but the film would have been made for $20-$30 million and not the reported $65 or the estimated $100 Million.

Though the economy may be recovering, we’re likely seeing a paradigm shift in how audiences go to movies. And where something like Battleship may have opened a bit better ten years ago, it may have also cost much, much less. Which means we’re going to see films that do huge numbers, or films that are dead on arrival. Since films have to open and open big if they are of this ilk, a film’s fate can be decided by Friday night.

If it fails Snow White will be given the beating that Battleship probably deserved. But Universal will play up the international numbers, and possibly blame the lack of 3-D for its failings. Then again, it could work.

But here’s what my numbers say:

  1. Snow White and the Huntsman – $35 Million
  2. MIB3 – $23.9 Million
  3. The Avengers – $23 Million
  4. Battleship – $5.5 Million
  5. The Dictator – $4.7 Million

It’s possible that Snow could go higher, but tracking has been weak for a long time, and it’s possible that a last minute advertising push has got it in better shape. But I doubt it. It could even have problems getting to $30 Million. There are the Twi-hards, who could show up, though.

What are you watching this weekend?