'300' tops 'Mr. Peabody' to capture weekend box office

Sun Mar 9, 2014 7:29pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The action film "300: Rise of an Empire," battled its way to $45 million in ticket sales to win the weekend box office race, slashing its way past the animated film "Mr. Peabody & Sherman."

"Mr. Peabody & Sherman," based on the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments in the 1960s animated TV show starring the characters Rocky and Bullwinkle, collected ticket sales of $32.5 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

Last week's box office winner, "Non-Stop," was third with $15.4 million in sales. The film stars Liam Neeson as an alcoholic U.S. air marshal racing to stop a string of murders on an international flight.

"300: Rise of an Empire," set in ancient Greece, is a blood-splattered sequel to the 2006 blockbuster "300." It takes place before and after the earlier film when 300 Spartans marched to their deaths in a battle against the Persians.

In the sequel, an alliance of Greek city-states wage battle on the seas against the Persians.

Both films are based on graphic novels written by author Frank Miller. "300: Rise of an Empire," stars Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton as the Greek leader Themistocles and French actress and model Eva Green as Artemisia, the ruthless commander of the Persian forces.

"This far exceeded our expectations," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president for theatrical distribution at Warner Brothers, which distributed the film produced by Legendary Pictures.

The studio anticipated an opening in the range of $35 million to $40 million, "thinking, if we can get to $100 million (total box office), we'd be in a good place," Goldstein added, noting that the movie made nearly half that in its opening days.   Continued...

Director of the movie Noam Murro (R) poses with cast members (from L-R) Jack O'Connell, Eva Green, Callan Mulvey and Lena Headey at the premiere of "300: Rise of an Empire" in Hollywood, California March 4, 2014. The movie opens in the U.S. on March 7. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni