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Here Come The Spartans! R-Rated '300' Stampeding Towards $60 Mil Weekend

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 10, 2007 | Publication: Deadline Hollywood Daily | Author: Nikki Finke

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Record For Biggest March Opening Ever

SATURDAY AM: Here come The Spartans! I'm told Warner Bros.' much-buzzed 300 about the epic Battle of Thermopylae (even though most of target audience fell asleep in school during that history lesson) looks set to shatter the record for biggest March opening ever.

This "Gladiator Lite" raked in $27.4 million Friday night for what is likely to be a $60+ million weekend in its 3,103 theaters. (I said back on Tuesday that 300 was tracking huge...) The studio mega-marketing this CGI extravaganza organized some sell-out Thursday midnight sneaks, likely $3.5 mil worth. All 57 IMAX theaters that showed 300 at 12:01 a.m. also sold out. Given that this gory movie from the creator of Sin City was cheap to make and shot in only 60 days and cast with no stars, it could end up one of Warner's most profitable pics. What a relief to the studio's moguls who had expensive disappointment after disappointment in 2006 (Poseidon, Superman Returns, The Lake House, The Ant Bully, Lady In The Water, etc.) with the notable exception of Oscar winner Happy Feet from director George Miller. Especially with a per screen average of $8,927 Friday, it's not even an issue whether 300 can overtake the current record-holder for March: 2002's Ice Age and its $46.3 mil take. Because that will be accomplished by tonight! (FYI: Since 2006 sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown opened March 31-April 2 with $68 mil, it can't be considered a March weekend record-holder.) Though 300's haul is amazing considering its 'R' rating (Ice Age was PG), it's still not a record. The biggest R-rated pics are Matrix Reloaded at $91.7 mil in May 2003 and The Passion of the Christ at $83.8 mil in February 2004. (Keep refreshing for latest #s.)

As for the other Top 10 movies, audiences are still hog wild for Disney's Wild Hogs at the start of its 2nd week out: the PG-13 motorcycle ride came in #2, making $7.8 mil Friday from 3,296 theaters -- down only 31% -- for what should be a $27.5 mil weekend. (Its cume is now a healthy $57.2 mil.) Paramount's #3 holdover Zodiac, in 2,379 venues, continues to disappoint along with star Jake Gyllenhaal: it earned just $2 mil Friday for what should be a meager $6.8 mil weekend (and new cume of only $18.9 mil). Meanwhile, 4th place went to Marvel/Sony's Ghost Rider which should pass the $100 million mark this weekend, the first pic to do that in 2007. (And continuing Sony's 2006 hot streak at the box office...) From 3,347 venues, the Nicolas Cage starrer added $1.9 mil Friday and could have a $6.8 mil weekend. (Its cume is now $99.2 mil.)

The only kiddie fare to make the Top 10, Walden/Disney's The Bridge To Terabithia, #5 from 3,210 theaters, took in $1.7 mil Friday for what could be a $6.8 mil weekend because of the Saturday matinee bounce. (Its cume starting four weeks out is now $61.8 mil.) Starting its 3rd week, New Line's thriller The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey, came in 6th and continued to underwhelm: playing in 2,489 theaters, it eked out $1,2 mil Friday for what should be a $3.5 mil weekend. (Its cume is now only $27.4 mil.) Warner Bros.' Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore chick flick Music And Lyrics is still hanging in at #7 after four weeks out: It made $1.1 mil Friday for what should be a $3.5 mil weekend. (New cume is $41.2 mil.) In 8th place, DreamWorks' Norbit with Eddie Murphy has slowed after 5 weeks out: it earned $1.2 mil Friday from 2,505 theaters for what could be a $4.2 mil weekend (and a new cume of $85.2 mil.) And, rounding out the Top 10, Universal's spy thriller Breach, playing in just 1,505 venues, took in $740K Friday, while IDP's Amazing Grace, in 1,000 theaters, made $735K Friday. No figures yet for this weekend's other openers: Bigger Picture's The Ultimate Gift, IFC's Believe In Me, Fox Searchlight's The Namesake or IFC's Beyond The Gates.


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