Huntsman: Winter’s War: Prequel Starring Theron, Blunt, and Chastain, Artistic and Commercial Flop?

Not one but three of Hollywood’s most gifted and beautiful actresses–Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, and Jessica Chastain– are wasted in Universal’s prequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

The studio decided to unveiling “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” in the spring when it faced less competition from summer blockbusters.

Problem is, The Jungle Book, Disney’s vastly entertaining live-action version of the Rudyard Kipling stories, proves to be a huge global hit, helped by rave reviews from critics and strong word-of-mouth.  The new movie isn’t just drawing in young viewers and families, it’s also appealing to older audiences, as well.

Tracking suggests that The Huntsman: Winter’s War will debut in the mid-$20 million range. “I’m worried about ‘Huntsman’ under-performing,” said Shawn Robbins, analyst of “It doesn’t seem to be clicking on social media or review-wise. That’s not the best of signs when you’re facing a behemoth like a Disney title.”

The Jungle Book should show long legs, dropping roughly 50% from its 103.3 opening to pull in a little more than $50 million in its second weekend.

Entering its sophomore weekend, New Line and MGM’s “Barbershop: The Next Cut” should have a similar drop off to “The Jungle Book,” dipping to $12 million from its $20.2 million launch.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a prequel to 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.” It brings back Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron and adds Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt into the mix.

Kristen Stewart, who starred as Snow White in the first film, did not return — she brought tabloid notoriety to that picture and engendered the fury of “Twilight” fans after she was caught in adulterous affair with married director, Rupert Sanders, while she was in a relationship with Robert Pattinson.

Sanders was replaced on The Huntsman by a lesser director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the first film’s visual-effects supervisor.

The story of battling rival queens cost $115 million to produce, and Universal is hoping that the band of A-list actresses will help it appeal to females.

The first “Huntsman” made nearly $400 million globally and debuted to $56.2 million domestically, figures the prequel is unlikely to match.

Globally, The Huntsman: Winter’s War has already opened in 25 markets, racking up $45 million and change. It debuts this weekend in 36 additional foreign territories, including such major markets as China, France and Brazil.