Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. 300: Rise of an Empire - $45.0 million
2. Mr. Peabody & Sherman - $32.5 million
3. Non-Stop - $15.3 million ($52.1 million total)
4. The Lego Movie - $11.0 million ($224.9 million total)
5. Son of God - $10.0 million ($41.4 million total)
6. The Monuments Men - $3.1 million ($70.6 million total)
7. 3 Days to Kill - $3.06 million ($25.5 million total)
8. Frozen - $3.01 million ($393.0 million total)
9. 12 Years a Slave - $2.1 million ($53.1 million total)
10. Ride Along - $2.0 million ($129.9 million total)
The Big Stories
Was there really such a demand for a 300 sequel? The 2007 original grossed $210 million in the U.S. and ultimately spawned not just Watchmen, but also Sucker Punch and Man of Steel. Was it worth it America? Regardless, before Snyder turned into a Terry Gilliam basher, he did create something that only Robert Rodriguez had seen in his dreams. Since then everything from the Spartacus television show to this year’s The Legend of Hercules have utilized elements of Snyder’s approach. Were we not entertained only to become overburdened by a style that had worn out its welcome? Apparently, people are still entertained by it.
This. Is. SPARTA!!! Well, Sort Of.
Warner Bros. originally had 300: Rise of an Empire scheduled to open against The Smurfs 2 and 2 Guns, in the wake of The Wolverine and just before Elysium. In other words, it was likely going to be crushed in a crowded period with only name recognition being its title. The studio thought better of it, though, and abandoned the summer altogether last May and into a more open March slot, where the first film found a lot of success. As the kickoffs to March go, its rank is pretty impressive.
Best March Openings
Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million), Dr. Seuss' The Lorax ($70.2), Watchmen ($55.2), 300: Rise of an Empire ($45.0), Wild Hogs ($39.6), Rango ($38.0), 10,000 B.C. ($35.8), Bringing Down the House ($31.1), The Pacifier ($30.5), Starsky & Hutch ($28.1)
Zack Snyder’s involvement has now translated into the three highest “R”-rated openings in March after Watchmen’s $55 million haul and the original 300’s $70.8 million start. The sequel does boast a higher budget than the original so its profit margin is going to shrink from back in 2006. When Warner Bros. decided it was a good idea to move forward with a sequel to its remake of Clash of the Titans just two Marches removed, it opened to only 54% of its predecessor and grossed only 51.2% of the original’s total. 300: Rise of an Empire started with approximately 63% of the 2007 film. A similar pattern would translate it to roughly $126 million in the U.S. Its international numbers are also off to an impressive $87.8 million start, and if it can gross at least 60% of the $245 million the first film grossed overseas (which it should easily do), Warner Bros. should find itself well enough in the black to know it made the right move.
Set the Way Back Machine for Whom?
The screenwriters of the animated Mr. Peabody & Sherman did themselves a great disservice by not playing to the audience who actually know who these characters are. Reruns of Rocky & Bullwinkle are not exactly as prominent as they were when many of us were young, so the filmmakers have done a complete reintroduction for young kids who may seem as just another boy and his dog. How many of them mistook Mr. Peabody for Brian from Family Guy remains to be seen, but even with The Lego Movie still holding well it was time for some new family entertainment, no matter how minimally entertaining it actually is.
March has been a good time to launch new animated fare over the years as evidenced by the following list:
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax ($70.2), Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68.0), Monsters vs. Aliens ($59.3), Ice Age ($46.3), Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! ($45.0), How to Train Your Dragon ($43.7), The Croods ($43.6), Rango ($38.0), Robots ($36.0), Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($32.5)
Funny how Peabody & Sherman’s 10th place rank comes at the expense of knocking off Meet the Robinsons, another animated time-travel film. That’s little consolation to the folks at Fox who are staring down an obscene $145 million budget even before advertising costs come in. All the animated films to open to over $30 million in March have grossed over $100 million stateside, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to justify those costs. With the heavily marketed Muppets Most Wanted opening in a few weeks and Fox’s own Rio 2 opening three weeks after that, Peabody & Sherman may not even have the legroom to hit nine digits here. It’s $65.8 million overseas will curb a little sweat at the studio as some may be wishing a paradox would destroy its original green light in the first place.
Tales of the Top 10
RoboCop and Pompeii are nowhere to be found; the latter becoming one of the year’s true bombs. Despite coming to DVD in less than 10 days, Disney’s Frozen continues to stand strong passing a billion dollars worldwide last week and very close to hitting $400 just in the U.S. Getting its own Oscar boost from last Sunday was 12 Years a Slave, reentering the top 10 even though people could have just checked out the DVD on Tuesday.
Non-Stop is headed to somewhere around $75-80 million while Son of God dropped 60% and is still going to make over $50 million for the miniseries. More interesting out of the top 10 were the numbers that Wes Anderson’s new film pulled in. When Moonrise Kingdom opened on four screens in 2012 it grossed just shy of $523,000. This weekend The Grand Budapest Hotel is on the same number of screens and grossed an estimated $800,000. Moonrise went on to gross over $45 million. We’ll see how people respond to his latest brand of quirk.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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