By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 8, 2014 at 8:07PM
As expected, "300: Rise of an Empire" (Warner Bros.) and "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (Twentieth Century Fox) opened Friday at #1 and 2 with $17.7 million and $8.0 million, respectively. (Both include Thursday evening shows.) "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," a Dreamworks Animation production, should benefit from good word of mouth (it earned an A Cinemascore) and matinees to reach around $30 million for the three days. "300" should hit around $40 million, although its B score suggests more mixed initial audience reaction.
Both films have already opened overseas, with "300" in its initial two days taking in $12 million in selected markets, above the returns for the first film. The opening weekend domestic take looks to be considerably below the $71 million last time around in 2007, so improved results internationally will be essential to boost its chances at profit (the budget was around $100 million). "Mr. Peabody" has been playing longer elsewhere, and already has grossed $40 million. Coming in at an expensive $140 million or more in cost, it is going to need to sustain a long run if Dreamworks is to avoid a repeat of the small write-off needed for their last animated feature "Turbo."
Fox Searchlight continues to have a great month - their Oscar Best Picture winner, despite becoming available for sale on DVD on Tuesday, returned to the Top 10 for the first time since November at #9, grossing $585,000 in 1,065 theaters. Meantime, their newest release, Wes Anderson's acclaimed "The Grand Budapest Hotel," opened to a staggering $260,000 for the day in only 4 theaters. This is the best non-event opening gross ever for a New York/Los Angeles platform opening (several Disney films with stage shows and Kevin Smith's Radio City Music Hall live appearance presentation of "Red State" did better). Most significantly, it is 50% better than the strong debut for Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," which went on to a domestic gross of $45 million.
Last weekend's two openers - which were very close on last Friday - fared differently this week. #3 "Non-Stop" (Universal) grossed $4.7 million, and looks for the 3 days to fall about 40%, a decent hold. "Son of God" (Fox) at #4 took in $2.7 million, a much steeper decline, and should drop a notch as last night's #5 "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) leaps ahead after a $2,660,000 Friday.
The rest of the Top 10 all grossed under $1 million, with "Monuments Men" (Sony), "3 Days to Kill" (Relativity), "Frozen" (Buena Vista), "12 Years a Slave" and "Ride Along" placing #6-10.