'300' Smashes March Opening Record; Spartans Stampede To $70 Mil Weekend; 3rd Biggest R-Rated Movie Debut Ever

SUNDAY AM: It was a bloodbath at the U.S. box office this weekend because of 2007’s first bonafide blockbuster. Warner Bros. told me this morning its ‘R’-rated 300 about the epic Battle of Thermopylae shattered the record for the biggest March opening ever, and scored the 3rd biggest ‘R’-rated movie debut ever, with its $70+ million. (Or, $70.025 mil to be exact, though the studio didn’t provide a breakdown.) Other studios say this ‘Gladiator Gore-Fest’ raked in $27.7 mil to $28 mil Friday and $24.3 mil to $24.8 mil Saturday and an estimated $16 mil to $17.2 mil Sunday from its 3,103 theaters. Toldja so… I said back on Tuesday that 300 was tracking huge — even though most of its target audience fell asleep during that history lesson in school. But rival studios were complaining to me this weekend that the much-buzzed pic was pitched heavily to the youth market despite the ‘R’ rating. (This is what gets Hollywood in trouble with Congress. In 2000, entertainment moguls had to explain to the Senate Commerce Committee, led by John McCain, why Tinseltown targets its sex and violence fare to kids.) But Warner’s maintains “we were very careful to market to 17 and above, in accordance with the R rating.” Helped by omnipresent advertising on the Internet and video game sites and comic book conventions and MySpace, this CGI extravaganza was sold out even for Thursday midnight sneaks, including all 57 IMAX theaters. This pic from the creator of Sin City was cheap to make and shot in only 60 days and cast with no stars, so it ends up one of Warner’s most profitable pics. So who was seeing 300? I’m told that the audience was about 60/40 male-female and about evenly split younger/older, with playability exceeding the norms on all quadrants in terms of both ‘definite recommends’ and the top two recommend boxes. Warner Bros. moguls were thrilled after enduring expensive disappointment after disappointment in 2006 (Poseidon, Superman Returns, The Lake House, The Ant Bully, Lady In The Water, etc.) with the notable exceptions of Oscar winner Happy Feet from director George Miller and The Departed from Martin Scorsese. Especially with a per screen average of $9,045 Friday and $7,965 Saturday, 300 easily overtook the current record-holder for March: 2002’s Ice Age and its $46.3 mil take. That was accomplished Saturday! (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. But 300 surged past that, too.) Though 300‘s haul is amazing considering its ‘R’ rating: it placed behind only Matrix Reloaded at $91.7 mil in May 2003 and The Passion of the Christ at $83.8 mil in February 2004 but bested Hannibal at $51 mil in February 2001. (more…)

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2007/03/r-rated-300-makes-huge-numbers-25-mil-friday-for-expected-60-mil-wkd-1565/