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Non-Disney ‘Snow White’ Sequel Has Unhappy Box-Office Opening

June 1, 1993 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The non-Disney Snow White sequel ″Happily Ever After″ opened sadly at the box office despite predictions by its producers that it would be a smash hit.

Despite a substantial advertising campaign, the animated feature took in just $1.76 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, with a per-location average of just $1,725, Exhibitor Relations Co. reported Tuesday. That put it in 11th place at the box office.

By comparison, the Sylvester Stallone film ″Cliffhanger″ opened at No. 1, taking in more than $20 million and averaging $8,769 per location.

First National Film Corp., the little-known Austin, Texas, company that released ″Happily Ever After,″ had predicted it would make $8 million in its opening weekend - 4 1/2 times more than it actually did.

Despite that, First National Chairman Milton Verret said Tuesday that the film ″performed well.″

First National had told investors in recent disclosure filings that it might be unable to pay creditors and overhead unless the box office was good.

Its shares tumbled 35 percent to $3.37 1/2 Tuesday in over-the-counter trading.

Investors intrigued by the prospect of a ″Snow White″ sequel had bid up the shares from $4.50 in March to $9.75 in April. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Verret and other insiders began selling large personal stakes in First National around that time.

Verret did not return telephone calls on Tuesday.

Earlier, he had predicted: ″Due to the explosive growth of animated motion pictures over the last five years, we anticipate that ‘Happily Ever After’ will be one of the biggest hits of the year.″

In a statement Tuesday, Verret maintained confidence that the film would generate significant revenues in all markets ″for years to come.″ Based on its estimates of box office so far, the company is projecting a 10-day box office total of more than $4 million, he said.

Walt Disney Co., which released ″Snow White″ in 1937, once sued the now- defunct Filmation cartoon factory over ″Happily Ever After,″ which was completed in 1988.

Filmation promised its characters would not resemble Disney’s, and reviewers found little Disney-style magic to applaud, particularly with the release coming only five weeks before the re-release of the original ″Snow White″ is scheduled.

The Los Angeles Times said ″Happily Ever After″ is ″scarcely a happy occasion for the audience,″ and the Washington Post called it ″tame and graceless.″