"Spartans" spoof conquers "Rambo" at box office

Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:51pm EST
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By Scott Hillis

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - It turns out that Rambo is no match for a bunch of silly Spartans.

"Meet the Spartans," a parody of the ancient Greek warriors lionized in last year's hit "300," topped the North American weekend box office with $18.7 million, emerging victorious over the return of Sylvester Stallone's signature action hero.

"I think everyone expected 'Rambo' to be No. 1," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers that compiles box office projections.

"There are definitely a lot of serious films out there now but there was a big enough audience looking to have silly, mindless fun at movie theaters," Dergarabedian said.

Over the same weekend last year, another parody from News Corp-owned Twentieth Century Fox, "Epic Movie," led the box office with an almost identical haul to "Meet the Spartans."

"Fox has sort of perfected the art of the spoof movie released at this time," Dergarabedian said.

According to estimates for the United States and Canada issued on Sunday, "Rambo," a joint release from Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company, debuted at No. 2 with $18.2 million, while last week's box office champ, rampaging-monster flick "Cloverfield," fell to No. 4 with a take of $12.7 million.

Paramount's "Cloverfield" was expected to lose some of its punch since a strong word-of-mouth marketing campaign was expected to have motivated many viewers to see it on its opening weekend.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Carmen Electra poses with men in costume at the premiere of "Meet the Spartans" in Los Angeles January 23, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>