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'300' still holding off rivals at the box office

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 19, 2007 | Publication: LA Times | Author: Josh Friedman

Posted by: maryp

Warner Bros.' Spartan battle movie tops the $100-million mark in its second weekend.

Box Office Top TenThe Spartan battle epic "300" hung tough at the box office in its second weekend, zooming well past $100 million to become the biggest hit of the new year.

On the heels of its record-setting opening, the Warner Bros. film grossed an additional $31.2 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Sunday's studio estimates. The movie, which had set a March record by grossing $70.9 million in its first weekend, dropped 56% but stayed far ahead of the competition.

The comedy "Wild Hogs" came in No. 2, followed by three new releases: the Sandra Bullock thriller "Premonition," the horror flick "Dead Silence" and the Chris Rock comedy-drama "I Think I Love My Wife."

Although the audience for "300" has been estimated at 60% male, women are flocking to the film as well. Hunky star Gerard Butler, whose cult following took off with 2004's "The Phantom of the Opera," is one reason, along with the film's heroic theme, female moviegoers say.

Robin Ruinsky, 49, a magazine writer from New York's Long Island who said she had seen the movie twice and planned to go again, said of Butler: "A lot of women I know are crazy about this guy. Some think he's a great actor and some are just gaga."

Suzanne Packard, 40, a health club assistant manager in suburban Baltimore, said the story of heroic sacrifice roused emotions in a manner similar to "Braveheart" and "Gladiator."

"These guys were resolute. They knew they weren't going to come back but they did what they had to do and they didn't complain," said Packard, who also had seen the film twice. "That speaks to women."

The movie continues to pack giant-screen Imax theaters and should benefit from upcoming school vacations, said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of domestic distribution.

Fellman said it could end up grossing $200 million to $225 million domestically. Imax theaters account for nearly $9 million of its $127.5-million total so far.

Overseas "300" opened in five Asian markets, including South Korea, and ranked No. 1 in all 13 foreign territories where it is playing. The film grossed an estimated $15.6 million outside the U.S. and Canada, bringing it to $24.6 million in those markets.

"Wild Hogs," the middle-aged-biker comedy from Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Pictures, hauled in $18.8 million in the U.S. and Canada in its third weekend. It also topped $100 million domestically.

"Premonition," produced by TriStar Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, fared best of the new releases, placing third with an estimated $18 million.

Made for about $20 million, the thriller drew an audience that was two-thirds female. Bullock plays a housewife whose husband dies in a car crash but reappears the next day.

Universal Pictures' "Dead Silence" met expectations with a $7.8-million opening weekend, finishing fourth. From "Saw" creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the movie follows a widower who returns to his hometown seeking clues to his wife's murder.

Fox Searchlight's "I Think I Love My Wife" opened the weakest of the three major new films, at an estimated $5.7 million. Chris Rock directed, co-wrote and stars in this adaptation of the French classic "Chloe in the Afternoon," about a married man whose fidelity is tested.

In their fifth weekends, the fantasy "Bridge to Terabithia" continued to attract family audiences for Buena Vista, while the comic book adaptation "Ghost Rider" neared $200 million worldwide for Sony. The Nicolas Cage vehicle is expected to cross that mark this week.

Despite enthusiastic reviews, Paramount Pictures' thriller "Zodiac" is still pulling in only modest business. Through three weekends it has grossed $28.9 million domestically.

On the art house circuit, Fox Searchlight's "The Namesake" could be a breakout hit in the making. The family saga averaged almost $17,000 per theater, expanding to 41 locations in the second weekend of its rollout.

The story of a culture clash among Indian immigrants in America was directed by Mira Nair, whose credits include "Monsoon Wedding" and "Mississippi Masala."

Industrywide, box-office results stayed ahead of last year's pace. Revenue is up 5.2% and attendance is up 3.5%.


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