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Weekend Report: '300' Sequel Conquers Box Office

by Ray Subers
300: Rise of an Empire
 

 
March 9, 2014

While it didn't come close to matching its predecessor, 300: Rise of An Empire still managed to dominate the weekend with over $45 million. Also opening this weekend, Mr. Peabody & Sherman became the latest DreamWorks Animation movie to disappoint at the domestic box office.

Playing at 3,470 locations, 300: Rise of an Empire's $45.03 million debut was off 36 percent from the original 300, which opened on the same weekend in 2007. Adjusting for ticket price inflation and 3D premiums, Rise of an Empire sold roughly half as many tickets. Still, it was a step up from other comparable titles like G.I. Joe: Retaliation ($40.5 million), 10,000 B.C. ($35.9 million), Wrath of the Titans ($33.5 million) and Immortals ($32.2 million).

Rise of an Empire
was never expected to match the original 300 at the domestic box office. While marketing did a solid job positioning the movie as a revenge tale, the story just wasn't as compelling this time around. Also, the visual style that was so original back in 2007 has become played out thanks to imitators (Immortals) and parodies (Meet the Spartans).

Still, Warner Bros. rolled out an aggressive marketing effort reminiscent of those for major Summer blockbusters. And while some of the earlier marketing was unfocused, the run up to release featured better material (the "War Pigs" commercial was particularly strong). It also helped that Rise of an Empire had some interesting new elements, most notably the sea battles and Eva Green's villain.

As expected, Rise of an Empire's audience skewed male (62 percent). No age information was provided. They awarded the movie a weak "B" CinemaScore, which suggests it will fall off quickly in the coming weeks. If it can manage to play like the first movie, it will earn over $130 million total.

It's worth noting that Rise of an Empire got a serious boost from premium-priced tickets. 3D showings accounted for 63 percent of earnings, which is abnormally high: in comparison, Thor: The Dark World's 3D share was 39 percent. The movie also did strong business in IMAX, where it earned $6.8 million.

Playing at 3,934 theaters, Mr. Peabody & Sherman opened to $32.2 million. In comparison, DreamWorks Animation's last two March releases—The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon—both opened above $40 million. It is at least an improvement over Turbo and Rise of the Guardians, though those two movies burned off some demand with Wednesday launches.

Peabody
's audience was 56 percent female and 52 percent above the age of 25. It received a strong "A" CinemaScore, which means word-of-mouth should be quite positive. Without any serious competition for the next five weeks, Peabody should ultimately earn over $100 million at the domestic box office.

In its second outing, Non-Stop fell 45 percent to $15.8 million. To date, the Liam Neeson thriller has grossed $52.6 million.

The LEGO Movie
was hit hard by Mr. Peabody this weekend. The animated hit fell 48 percent—its worst drop yet—to $10.9 million, which brings its total to $224.9 million.

Son of God
rounded out the Top Five with $10.4 million. That's off 60 percent from last weekend. So far, the big-screen version of History Channel's The Bible mini-series has earned $41.9 million.

After winning Best Picture at the Oscars last weekend, 12 Years a Slave expanded to 1,065 locations this weekend and grossed $2.11 million. That put it back in the Top 10 for the first time in over three months. The acclaimed drama has now brought in over $53 million.

Playing at just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel opened to an incredible $811,166 this weekend. That's a $202,792 per-theater average, which ranks ninth all-time. Among similar releases, Budapest was a major step up from The Master ($147,262) and Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom ($130,749).

As The Master and Inside Llewyn Davis recently proved, strong openings in New York and Los Angeles doesn't necessarily guarantee long-term success. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel seems like the kind of comedic crowd-pleaser that's going to play well as it expands. The movie adds at least 65 locations next weekend, which should be enough to crack the Top 10.

Around-the-World Roundup


300: Rise of an Empire
dominated the international box office with $88.8 million this weekend. According to Warner Bros., it was up 11 percent from the first movie across the same 58 markets. It reached all major territories except Japan (June) and China (undated). Top markets include Russia ($9.2 million), France ($7.2 million), Korea ($6.5 million), Brazil ($5.8 million) and Mexico ($5.5 million) and India ($3 million).

Similar to the U.S., fellow English-speaking countries Australia and the U.K. showed less interest this time around. It earned $4.8 million in the U.K. and $2.8 million in Australia, while the first movie opened to $9.3 million and $4.3 million, respectively.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
added $21 million, which is its best weekend yet. New markets included Russia ($4.5 million) and Spain ($2.1 million). So far, Peabody has grossed $65.8 million overseas.

The RoboCop remake earned $14.8 million this weekend, most of which came from China ($10.5 million). It's now banked $40 million there, which means RoboCop could ultimately become one of those rare movies that takes in more in China than in the U.S. (other recent examples include Pacific Rim and Escape Plan). Overall, RoboCop has earned $165.3 million so far.

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Forecast:
'300' Sequel to 'Rise' Up Against 'Mr. Peabody' This Weekend


Last Weekend
Neeson Beats Jesus, 'Frozen' Hits $1 Billion


This Weekend in Past Years:
• 2013 - 'Jack' Not Very 'Giant'

• 2012 - Little 'Lorax' Is Box Office Giant
• 2011 - 'Rango' Moseys Into Top Spot
• 2010 - Moviegoers Mad About 'Alice'
• 2009 - 'Watchmen' Rages in the Top Spot
• 2008 - '10,000 B.C.' Dominates Weak Period
• 2007 - 'Wild Hogs' Easily Ride to the Top
• 2006 - '16 Blocks' Gets Clocked by 'Madea'
• 2005 - 'Pacifier' Packs Them In

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