Everyone knew 300, the new special effects-laden R-rated flick from Warner Bros. was going to be huge, it was just a question of how huge. 300 ended up surprising everyone (including myself) with a March record opening estimated at $70 million. Demonstrating once again that competition is over-rated, other films didn't wilt in the face of a box office behemoth. The end result for the weekend is that the box office was way up over last year, giving exhibitors plenty of cause for joy.
300 Is Biggest March Open Ever
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for March 9-11, 2007
By John Hamann
March 11, 2007
The number one movie of the weekend is 300, a film we knew was going to big. The good-looking CG pic earned an awesome $70.0 million over its first three days. It opened on Thursday at midnight to sold out screenings. 300 earned an amazing average of $22,568 from its 3,103 venues. It is estimated to be the biggest March opener of all time, slightly surpassing the $68 million opening of last year's Ice Age: The Meltdown. To appreciate just how big this opening is, consider the following. The previous largest R-rated March opener of all time was Blade 2. That comic book sequel earned less than half of what 300 did over its opening weekend, as it pulled in $32.5 million. 300 accomplishes the third biggest opening weekend ever for a R-rated flick, finishing only behind The Passion of the Christ's $83.9 million and The Matrix Reloaded's $91.8 million.
300 is a huge victory for Warner Bros. and its four production partners as it had a budget of only $60 million. Frank Miller's previous work with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in Sin City had been impressive with a $29 million opening, but 300's debut is historic. I often complain that Hollywood will continue to make fat suit movies because we support lowbrow fare like Norbit and Wild Hogs; however, this is the first time in recent in recent memory that North America has supported something as cutting edge as 300. Thankfully, this ground-breaking success will mean that there will be more of a willingness to take a chance on more daring product.
After getting off to a very hot start in the review department, 300 ended up on the mixed side as the continent's more stodgy reviewers pulled its average back. At RottenTomatoes, 135 critics weighed in and 83 gave it a thumbs up. That gives it an overall fresh rating of 61%, with the "cream of the crop" at the review compilation Web site coming in at only 53%. What may be the best news for the backers of 300 is that the war epic has a User rating of 90%. 300 is a visual flick aimed at men. With this amount of eye candy and violence, it could turn into a repeat viewing experience for fan boys and for all men in general. Also, being an R-rated film, average ticket prices skew much higher than for a PG-13 rated picture. Sin City managed to gross more that 2.5 times its opening weekend gross, and a similar feat here would make 300 a $175 million film, and that's just the domestic gross.
Way back in second is Wild Hogs. In its second frame, the film with the 18% fresh rating earned another $28 million from 3,296 venues. I thought word on this one would get out quicker, but it wasn't to be. Wild Hogs actually held fairly, dropping 29% compared to its $39.7 million opening. The Disney flick with bad gay jokes and people getting hit in the crotch has now earned $77.4 million.
Finishing third is Bridge to Terabithia, a good news story for Walden Media and Disney. Terabithia earned $6.9 million in its third weekend of release and while that total may not be amazing, the fact that this one dropped only 23% and managed to improve its weekend ranking certainly is. This small film with a lesser-known director and no-name actors (my apologies to Zooey Deschanel) most likely has a very small budget, and has now earned a quite impressive $67 million. Continued good holds could have Bridge finishing with as much as $85 million at the domestic box office before going forward to be huge on DVD.
Ghost Rider slides into fourth spot and hits an important milestone, despite seeing its third consecutive large percentage drop. Ghost Rider earned $6.8 million from a still huge 3,347 venues. It dropped 41% compared to last weekend's take of $11.6 million. The good news for the Marvel/Sony picture is that it crossed the $100 million plateau this weekend as it sits with $104.1 million. Ghost Rider should fall off his bike with a domestic total of about $125 million.
Dipping down to fifth is a film with a similar demographic appeal to 300 in Zodiac, David Fincher's latest film. Because of that similar audience, Zodiac got zapped, earning only $6.77 million from 2,379 venues. It dropped an unfortunate 49% and will have a tough time making any serious dough with this second weekend drop-off. The current total for this Paramount flick now sits at $23.7 million. It has a long way to go to match its budget figure of $65 million. The best news here is that we don't have to wait three years for another Fincher flick. The Fight Club/Se7en director will have The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (another Fincher movie with Brad Pitt) on screens in May 2008.
Jim Carrey's The Number 23 finishes sixth and is thankful there aren't more openers with which to compete. The Number 23 earned $4.33 million in its third weekend, dropping 33% compared to last weekend. This $30 million failure has now grossed $30.5 million, and won't finish with much more than its budget figure.
Finishing seventh is Norbit, Eddie Murphy's embarrassing follow-up to Dreamgirls. The fat suit comedy is on its way out, and earned $4.31 million in its fifth weekend. That equals a drop of 33%, and Norbit now has a total of $88.3 million. Will it make it to $100 million? Probably not, but it will definitely be close.
In eighth we have Music and Lyrics, a film that North America seems to have passed on. The Drew Barrymore/Hugh Grant flick earned $3.8 million this weekend and was off a small 22% from the previous frame, but it's too little too late. This Warner Bros. flick has now earned $43.8 million.
Breach manages to hang on to a top ten spot, as Reno 911! Miami and Black Snake Moan drop hard enough to move Breach up a spot to ninth. The Chris Cooper film earned $2.6 million this weekend, off 28% compared to last weekend. Breach is a small film, so its makers at Universal might not be too disappointed with a domestic gross so far of $29.1 million..
Finally, rounding out the top ten is Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his work in the abolition movement. Amazing Grace earned another $2.5 million, which amounts to a tiny 11% drop from the previous weekend. The small-scale film has a gross so far of $11.4 million.
Overall, box office is way up over last year. In 2006 over the same weekend, three films got off to decent starts with Failure to Launch leading the way over The Hills Have Eyes and The Shaggy Dog. That brought only a combined $50 million, and the top ten films managed to score $89 million. With 300 responsible for almost half the box office this weekend, the box office scored a top ten total of $136.1 million, easily the biggest of the year.