'300' draws crowds in Greece despite critics

Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: April 3, 2007 | Publication: NN SEEK (Blog) | Author: Nathalie Rendevski Savaricas
Publication/Article Link:NN Seek

THERMOPYLAE, Greece -- Greece's critics hated "300," but moviegoers here are
lining up to watch the gory re-creation of the Battle of Thermopylae in
record numbers -- happy to lap up the Hollywood thrills and take an
indulgent view of what detractors call a butchery of their history.

The film had a record opening weekend in Greece with 325,000 ticket sales.
That easily exceeded the previous mark set last year by "Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (220,000).

Inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novel, the movie directed by Zach Snyder
is about 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas holding off hundreds of thousands
of invading Persians -- and the odd imaginary monster -- at a mountain pass
in Greece.
Critics dismissed the movie as gratuitously violent and historically
inaccurate, one magazine described it as a "bloodlust videogame."

They were soon drowned out by moviegoers.

"The film was incredible on all counts. It's the first time I've heard a
cinema audience clap at the end of a movie" said Nikos Mastoris, who owns a
comic book store in Athens. "The photography, the music, and all the scenes
are really brilliant. The movie is very faithful to the comic book."

Haris Antonopoulos of the movie distributor Village Roadshow said ticket
sales for "300" in Greece have topped the 1 million mark -- out of a
population of 11 million -- and the film is on course to beat the
record-setting "Loufa kai parallagi: Sirines sto Egeo." That movie about
life as a Greek army conscript sold 1.4 million tickets in 2005.

"300" is showing on about 70 screens in the Athens area alone and double
that nationwide. Cinemas in rural towns added special midnight screenings to
cope with the demand.

The village of Thermopylae, population 250, lies about 125 miles north of
Athens. A modern monument near the country's main highway commemorates the
battle in 480 B.C.

Most villagers still haven't seen the movie because the nearest cinema is in
the city of Lamia, an hour's drive to the north, but they are still proud of
its success. (The film has grossed more than $162 million in the United
States alone so far and was the top-grossing movie for two weeks, according
to box office tracker Media by Numbers LLC.)

Local archaeologist Elena Froussou watched "300" and couldn't help being
impressed.

"The movie was great spectacle," she said. "There were many inaccuracies,
but the movie (generally) does base itself on reality."