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Miller Talks 300

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 16, 2007 at 5:34AM

(Photo: Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
(Photo: Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)

Who knew that comic book creator Frank Miller would have such an impact on pop culture? It took a while--many folks have long credited Miller with reinventing Batman with his Dark Knight comics. But his brushes with Hollywood had left him feeling bitter--until he came roaring back after Robert Rodriguez talked him into co-directing a slavish adaptation of his Sin City, which became a rousing success in 2005. (A sequel is in the works.) And when Zack Snyder got an early gander at what Rodriguez was doing, he decided to adopt a similar approach for 300--with stunning results all round. (For two POVs on 300's disconnects with critics, see Variety's Peter Bart and Ben Fritz.) UPDATE: Here's one response to their respective 300 takes.

I talked to a giddily happy Miller for my first Variety column on the impact of the R-rated blockbuster on the future of filmmaking. I'm betting that it will wind up as one of the highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time. The Passion of the Christ tops the list of R-rated domestic grossers at $370.8 million, followed by The Matrix Reloaded at $281 million. 300 has already passed the $100-million mark and won't fall too much this weekend (it could do more than $40 million), so it's a cinch to head toward stratospheric numbers. It's now a must-see, and thanks to the subplot with the formidable Lena Headey, could also cross over to women, despite its macho violence. And repeat business will also be a factor. Here's New York Magazine's Q & A with Miller:

Is this really the right historical moment to be releasing a movie about an army of civilized Europeans taking on invading hordes of Middle Eastern barbarians? I can’t really think that way, because I wouldn’t get any work done. I think it’s the same story it was in 480 B.C., when heroes were tested for what they are. A hero wasn’t necessarily the best-looking guy in town, or the one who got the woman or got all of Harry Potter’s schoolmates to cheer him. It was the person who did the absolute right thing, even if it meant he would die, forgotten, in disgrace.

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.