Two new movies opened in wide release, one a prequel/sequel to a hit blockbuster from seven years back, the other the latest from DreamWorks Animation based on a cartoon from the ’60s, and it may have not been too big a surprise that Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise of an Empire (Warner Bros.), starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green and Lena Headey, was victorious this weekend as it grossed an estimated $45 million in 3,470 theaters, roughly $13 thousand per venue, to take the #1 spot at the box office.
While that was significantly lower than the $70.9 million of Zack Snyder’s original historic action epic from 2007, it was a solid enough debut to make it one of the top openers for March. The movie’s success was helped by its release into 342 domestic IMAX 3D theaters where it brought in $6.8 million of its weekend business. The “300” follow-up also grossed $5.2 million on 179 international IMAX screens, setting a new international March record for the large-screen format.
Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation tried their hand at bringing classic cartoon characters to modern-day family audiences with Mr. Peabody & Sherman (20th Century Fox), featuring the voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci and Patrick Warburton, but it was one of the animation studio’s lighter openings with just $32.5 million in 3,934 theaters. Although DreamWorks Animation had a decent hit last March with The Croods, that opening number is still fairly low for them even if it’s better than 2012’s Rise of the Guardians and 2013’s Turbo, two of the more notable bombs for the studio.
Before we get to the rest of the Top 10, we want to look at one of the significant limited releases of the weekend as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight), featuring an ensemble cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and more, opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles to the tune of $800 thousand. Its per-site average of $200 thousand per venue is one of the highest for that number of theaters, significantly besting the $130 thousand averaged by Anderson’s last film Moonrise Kingdom in May 2015. Moonrise Kingdom went on to become one of Anderson’s highest-grossing hits with $45 million. “Grand Budapest” also averaged more per-theater than Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which previously held the record in that many theaters for a non-Disney movie.
Liam Neeson’s action-thriller Non-Stop (Universal) dropped 47% to third place with $15.4 million in its second weekend to bring its total to $52.2 million, just slightly more than its reported production budget.
The animated blockbuster The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros.) took its biggest hit since opening in early February, dropping 47% to fourth place with $11 million and $225 million grossed domestically so far.
The Mark Burnett and Roma Downey-produced Son of God (20th Century Fox) took an even bigger hit in its second weekend, dropping 61% down to fifth place with $10 million and $41.5 million total.
George Clooney’s WWII drama The Monuments Men (Sony) followed in sixth place with $3.1 million and $70.6 million total with Kevin Costner’s action-thriller 3 Days to Kill (Relativity) and Walt Disney’s animated musical Frozen vying for seventh and eighth with $3 million each. While 3 Days to Kill will drop at least three places from last weekend, Frozen is looking to hold its position, allowing it to maintain its astounding run in the Top 10 with $393 million grossed domestically and another $616 million overseas.
After winning the Academy Award for Best Picture last Sunday, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave(Fox Searchlight) was re-expanded into 654 more theaters on Friday, allowing it to get back into the Top 10 with $2.2 million in ninth place, despite its DVD and Blu-ray release earlier in the week.
This weekend, the Top 10 grossed approximately $127 million, just slightly ahead of the same weekend last year when Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great and Powerful opened in first place with $79.1 million.