It's a Historical Weekend at the Box Office. . . Historical Fiction That Is

This weekend has two new releases that can boast sword-wielding Greek warriors. The one other thing they have in common is their battle for the top spot at the box office this weekend. Scott chimes in with who he thinks will win along with his usual expert analysis.


We are barely into the third month of the year, and we are facing 2014’s third ‘sword and sandal’ movie in 300: Rise of an Empire. It does feel like it has been a bit of an overdose for this style of movie, but it does not end here as there is a tale about Hercules still to come. Will the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300 be able to fend off the family animation film Mr. Peabody & Sherman this weekend?

300: Rise of an Empire is opening this weekend in 3,470 theatres across North America, and looks to cash in on the success of the original, which was able to turn a budget of $60 million into a worldwide gross of $454 million and an additional $262 million in domestic DVD sales. While the brand recognition will be aiding it greatly, it also comes seven years later, which could go a long way in diminishing the passion and fire that fans had for more Spartan violence. That is a lot of time for people to lose interest, and could end up hurting its take. 300 was able to open to a phenomenal $70 million, and as of right now there is little chance of the sequel living up to that sort of performance.

Another detractor to the film’s performance may be the lack of director Zack Snyder, although the promotional material has been sure to splash his involvement as producer when it can. The trailers for the movie look to get the same visual flare of the first one, but it takes very little time to notice that it is not quite the same. Director Noam Murro is filling some big shoes right now.

Also not helping the film is the fact that all of the spear wielding heroes from the first movie have been struck down, making little crossover of characters between the stories. Many sites are seeing this film taking first place this weekend, but that just is not sitting well with me. We have already seen sword and sandal movies this year fall way short of expectations, and I believe the family animated movie will likely be pulling the rug out from under Xerxes’ feet.

300: Rise of an Empire Opening Weekend Prediction – $35 Million

Standing in the corner opposite of the Spartans is a brilliant dog and redheaded boy who are able to travel through time, so heck, people may be able to get their Spartan fix in this flick as well. Based off of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show segment, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is hopping into theatres that have not had similar fare since the well-made and greatly received The LEGO Movie one month ago. Enough time has passed that there should be no competition between the films, as well as giving audiences a break to gain interest in the next big movie.

This time of year is also perfect for family movies. Last year Oz the Great and Powerful was able to pull in a hefty $79 million, and the year before saw Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax gather $70 million in admissions (Christopher: Also last year The Croods has a respectable 43 million opening weekend). While it is far behind 300: Rise of an Empire on Twitter, that is to be expected as 300 is more the type of film to gather that sort of chatter. The movie, unlike its R-rated, warring opponent, is sitting well with critics as it has 75% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this. I should note that its percentage has dropped a lot in the last few days, but I do not see that harming its chances. The biggest hurdle this film will have is getting children excited about a cartoon that their parents may have even been too young to watch.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman Opening Weekend Prediction - $38 Million

Coming out in limited release this weekend is Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is distributed by Fox Searchlight and is screening in four theatres. Anderson’s last movie, Moonrise Kingdom, also opened in four theatres and was able to make an average of $130,000 per theatre. I have no idea just where the interest for this film is right now, so I am backing away from making any predictions on it. The trailers show a film that has all of the personal touches of Anderson as it presents a partially real, partially fantastical visual style. Currently it has 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the next few weeks will determine if it will be expanding to a theatre near you.