While 300: Rise of an Empire did not quite match the impressive debut of its predecessor, the sword and sandal spectacular still managed to gross $45 million over the the weekend. While 300: Rise of an Empire was the big hit at the box office, Mr Peabody & Sherman grossed a very respectable $32.5 million. The Liam Nieson action thriller, Non-Stop, dropped to third place in its second weekend grossing $15 million over the three days.
300: Rise Of An Empire arrives in theaters seven years after the original 300. Directed by Noam Murro, the bloody action film features Casino Royale’s Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton from television’s Strike Back as the new leads. Original star Gerald Butler did not sign on for the sequel to the film that gave the actor his big break. Even though Butler is not on board, 300: Rise Of An Empire does features the return of several characters from the original film.
300: Rise Of An Empire, like the original, is based on a graphic novel by the acclaimed and controversial Frank Miller called Xerxes. The original 300 was an surprise hit at the box office. The film opened during the first weekend of March back in 2007 and grossed over $70 million in just three days. 300 would go onto gross $456 million worldwide off a moderate $60 million production budget. 300 director Zack Snyder opted to not return behind the camera, but did stay on board as both a producer and had a large hand in helping to form the screenplay for the sequel. In 300: Rise Of An Empire, the Greek general Themistocles played by Stapleton must face the invading Persian army. The film features epic battles at sea to help differentiate itself from the first film. While not as large the unexpected opening of the original, 300: Rise Of An Empire earning $45 million opening weekend should put it on pace to make its $100 million production budget back domestically.
In second place for the weekend was the Dreamworks animated family film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Based upon the Peabody’s Improbable History snippets from the 60s cartoon The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is about a genius-level talking dog who adopts a young boy named Sherman. With the use of Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine, young Sherman and Mr. Peabody travel throughout time and history running into all sorts of mischief along the way. Mr. Peabody & Sherman was directed by Disney The Lion King’s Rob Minkoff and features Modern Family’s Ty Burrell as the genius talking canine. While Mr. Peabody & Sherman’s $32 million opening is below Dreamworks animated hits like How To Train Your Dragon and The Croods which both opened at over $40 million.
300: Rise Of An Empire is a fairly big hit in the budding new year with the second highest opening weekend of 2014 behind only The Lego Movie. The male-driven action fest will face stiff competition next weekend when Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul races across the country in the world’s most expensive sports car in the video game adaptation, Need For Speed.
By Benjamin Murray