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Weekend Box Office: 300 Rises to Box Office Domination

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By Chris Kavan - 03/09/14 at 11:56 PM CT

Liam Neeson was certainly stopped this time around as a group of abnormally chiseled men (and one wicked woman) easily conquered the box office. There was also good news for director Wes Anderson, as he posted one of the most impressive limited-release openings of all time. All in all, it was an good way to start March, as the top 12 ran a little over 2% ahead of the same weekend in 2013 and, for the year, is an impressive 10% ahead of last year through the same time period. It will be interesting to see how spring plays out.

1) 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

It looks like audiences are still in the mood for CGI blood spray (and abs). 300: Rise of an Empire was far and away the winner, taking in $45.05 million and crushing the competition. While it couldn't match the original film's pretty phenomenal $70.88 million opening (over the same weekend in 2007) - no one was expecting the film to top the original. It did improve over such imitators like The Immortals ($32.2 million) and Wrath of the Titans ($33.5 million). Granted - it is thanks to such imitators that the visual flair the original 300 has brought can seem a bit played out - but Rise of an Empire certainly took advantage of the 3D boom - as fully 63% of the grosses came from the format - and another $6.8 million came from IMAX screens. As a comparison, the latest Thor only got a 39% boost from 3D screens. Whether this is a good or bad sign for the longevity of the film remains to be seen - more worrying is the mediocre "B" Cinemascore the film got from a (surprise) mostly male (62%) audience. Even if it falls off quickly, it should be able to at least match its $110 million budget, if not come out a bit ahead of it. And I have to say - while not original, the film is truly enjoyable (you know, if you're not squeamish about lots of blood and rough sex). The original set the precedent, but this one was just a lot of fun.

2) MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN

The Lego Movie has dominated the family box office, but when a new challenger approaches, families tend to gravitate towards it. Mr. Peaboy & Sherman is no exception. While the $32.5 million opening is far cry from the $69 million opening of The Lego Movie - and also a step down from previous March offerings The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon (which both opened at $40 million plus) - the movie still brought in an "A" Cinemascore. The animated film isn't likely to join the ranks of the all-time greats, but with good word-of-mouth on its side, it should at least top $100 million - but will have to hope for some decent international numbers to justify its $145 million budget.

3) NON-STOP

There is only room for one action movie atop the box office, and the Neeson-helmed Non-Stop took a nearly 47% hit in its second weekend with a $15.4 million showing. That gives the film a new total of $52.1 million - topping its $50 million budget - so everything else is gravy from here. Even with the competition, the film should be able to cross the $75 million mark before it leaves theaters.



4) THE LEGO MOVIE

The awesome Lego Movie finally got some direct competition over the weekend, and it took its biggest hit yet, dropping over 47% from last weekend. The film brought in $11 million and gave it a new total of $224.9 million - and it should have no problem topping the $250 million mark in the coming weeks (and should remain the top film of 2014 for some time yet).



5) SON OF GOD

There was no divine intervention going on here, as Son of God had the biggest drop out of any film in the top 12, dropping nearly 61% in its second weekend. The abridged version of The Bible miniseries took in $10 million to give it a new total of $41.5 million - still a pretty impressive total in my mind. It will top $50 million - though it is now looking like it probably won't make it too far beyond that mark.


Outside the top five: Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave added 654 theaters and got an impressive 123% bump - and broke back into the top 10 with a 9th place $2.175 million total (last week it was in 18th place). The film has now brought in $53.1 million - the numbers look even better when you consider it is also readily available for home viewing - just going to show how much people still appreciate the theater experience.

Even though it was released in only four theaters, Wes Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, had plenty of reason to celebrate the weekend. It brought in $800,000 for a whopping $200,000-per-theater average - taking 9th place all time on that list. It was easily the best opening for Anderson yet, topping the $130,749 average of Moonrise Kingdom and also topping the $147,262 average of The Master. While limited openings don't often translate to a good response with general audiences, Anderson's latest seems to be the best chance out of all his films at having a broad appeal - the comedy (not to mention the all-star cast) should help connect outside the indie crowd. We'll find out as the film expands in the coming weeks.

Next week, Need for Speed looks to find the same success as the Fast and Furious films, while we also the latest film from Tyler Perry - The Single Moms Club. We'll see if fast cars will be able to match the might of Greek war machine.

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