Hordes Drive '300' to Record

by Brandon Gray
Gerard Butler in 300
March 12, 2007

300 was anything but spartan, reaping $70.9 million on around 4,800 screens at 3,103 theaters in its opening weekend. That eclipses all previous ancient battle pictures by a wide margin, including Troy and Gladiator, and ranks fifth among comic book adaptations.

The $65 million computer-generated battle picture conquered the March opening record, previously held by Ice Age: The Meltdown's $68 million. It's also the third-highest grossing start for an R-rated movie, behind The Matrix Reloaded and The Passion of the Christ. 300's opening included $3.6 million from 62 IMAX venues, surpassing Superman Returns as the biggest IMAX debut ever.

"We felt we were going to be between $35 and 40 million," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of distribution. Fellman explained that 300 had 68 percent public awareness in tracking surveys going into the weekend and that only one movie in the past, The Fast and the Furious, had opened to $40 million or more with less than 70 percent awareness. Warner's exit polling indicated that 300's audience was 60 percent male and 52 percent under 25 years old, while the grade from moviegoer pollster CinemaScore was an "A-."

Warner Bros. waged a striking marketing campaign for 300, based on the picture's hyper-stylized, digitally-enhanced look, the mythology of Ancient Greece and the high stakes premise of 300 Spartans fighting a vast army in the Battle of Thermopylae, replete with passing references to freedom to recall past audience favorites like Braveheart and Gladiator.

In the face of 300, most holdovers did not retreat, and overall business rose 38 percent above the same frame last year when Failure to Launch was on top. What's more, the 2007 box office as a whole pulled ahead of 2006 through the same point.

Wild Hogs kept its motor running in its second weekend, down 30 percent to $27.6 million for $77 million in ten days, while another Buena Vista title, Bridge to Terabithia, eased 24 percent to $6.8 million for $66.9 million in 24 days.

Among milestones, Ghost Rider became the first 2007 release to cross the $100 million mark and surpassed the final gross of Daredevil, while Night at the Museum inched past Cars to become the second-highest grossing picture from 2006 at $244.8 million.

Review - 300
3/13/06 - 'Failure to Launch' Rockets Past Remaes (Same Weekend, 2006)
3/14/05 - 'Robots' Rivets (Same Weekend, 2005)
5/17/04 - 'Troy' Rises But Not Immortal

Weekend Box Office Results
All Time March Openings
All Time R-Rated Openings
Showdown: '300' vs. 'Troy' vs. 'Gladiator'
Comic Book Adaptations

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Mar. 11 and was revised on Monday, Mar. 12 with actual grosses.

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