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New in Theaters March 07: 300: Rise of an Empire, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Grand Budapest Hotel

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By Chris Kavan - 03/06/14 at 08:37 AM CT

The Lego Movie finally was taken down last weekend thanks to a kick-ass Liam Neeson and Son of God. This week, two other big guns (and an art house favorite) enter the scene. Another animated family film will see if it can launch to the same success as our Lego buddies, while a sequel to the most awesome CGI abs to hit the big screen comes eight years after the original hit the big screen. Big budgets, big animation, big casts - one will surely top the box office this weekend and Neeson will have to settle for one week atop the charts.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE When Zack Snyder dropped 300 on us eight years ago - it was the perfect mix of slo-mo action, smoldering sexuality and the most ab-tastic CGI (and blood-drenched violence) and showed in the receipts as it went on to make over $210 million. Eight years is quite long time between the original and the sequel - but here we go with Rise of an Empire. Essentially taking place both concurrent and after the events of 300 - the Persian empire, led by god-king Xerses, now sets its site on Athens - who must strike a deal with Sparta - to defend themselves. The Athenians have a fleet to defend them - the Spartans are better on the ground - but the Persians still overwhelm in their sheer size. This film looks to build on the popularity of the original - plus it has the added benefit of the 3D resurgence. Original cast members Rodrigo Santoro (Xerses), Lena Headey (Spartan Queen Gorgo) and David Wenham (Spartan warrior Dilios) all return to reprise their roles. Eva Green - a former Bond girl who is sexy as hell, joins the cast as Persian commander Artemisia, along with Sullivan Stapleton as the Athenian admiral. It looks like this film is also going to strike the balance between action, effects and sexiness - but will it be as popular as the original? That's going to be hard to top in my books - but I think it has the best chance of coming out on top over the weekend.

MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN Hot off the heels of the red-hot Lego Movie, we get another animated film based on a popular (though somewhat more obscure) duo Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Mr. Peabody is talking dog - who also happens to be a genius inventor and businessman - while Sherman is his adopted boy. The two often travel to significant events in history using his WABAC machine. But when a new friend (who just happens to be girl) enters the picture, the rules of time travel are broken and a grand adventure awaits as the group attempts to "fix" history. The movie does look like a lot of fun - vocal talent includes Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Ariel Winter, Stephen Tobolowsky, Dennis Haysbert, Stanley Tucci and Mel Brooks (amongst others). The casting looks solid to me - but one has to wonder if they will be able to appeal to children and adults that The Lego Movie did so well - if it only appeals to the younger crowed, it might do well for a a few weeks, but won't have the longevity The Lego Movie has going for it. It should be noted the film was pushed back from last November until now - and we'll see if that affects the returns. As it stands, as a new entry targeting families, it's going to do well - but how well depends on if it can strike a chord across the board and not just entertain the kiddies.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL That brings us to Wes Anderson's latest film. Following the success of Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson once again has gathered an exceptional cast (made up of those he has worked with in the past and some welcome new faces) and focuses on the concierge at the titular hotel, along with his trusted helper (and later best friend) Zero Moustafa. How awesome is this cast? Ralph Fiennes, Adrian Brody, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Léa Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, F. Murray Abraham, Bob Balaban, Jason Schwartzman and Jeff Goldblum all make an appearance (whether small roles or large) and newcomer Tony Revolori (who plays Zero) really landed a dream part that is sure to boost his career. I, for one, am a huge Anderson fan - in face, Moonrise Kingdom is one of my favorite films to come out in the post-2000 period - and I think his earlier films are pretty great as well. He has a certain style - some don't like it - but I find it unique and quite interesting - and he always comes up with the most unusual, yet unforgettable, characters. This may not be a huge hit with general audiences - but I think this could be one of Anderson's best films yet, and I am truly looking forward to see what he has come up with this time around.

It should be an exciting weekend - three big films filling the screen - will action, animation or arthouse win out? It could be close, but I'll see you on Sunday with the final results.


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