300 Delivers A Mighty Blow

A ground swell of interest has been building for “300” ever since the first footage premiered for the public at last year’s San Diego Comic Con. Going into its opening weekend, many expected the film to do around $30-40 million for the three days, one of the best openings of the year so far.

Its strong visuals lent and comic pedigree lent itself to strong estimates, but expectations of a higher opening were cooled by the R rating, lack of marquee stars, and ancient historical setting which generally never goes over well at the US box-office.

That’s changed with the film taking in around double the initial estimates – a cool $70 million. The amount is easily the biggest opening this year, the biggest March opening of all time ahead of last year’s “Ice Age 2” ($68m), and the third highest R-rated movie opening weekend behind “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Passion of the Christ”.

Whilst critics have been mixed on the film (53/100 on Metacritic, 62% on Rottentomatoes), audiences seem to be more upbeat with 78% and 90% approval ratings from readers of those two aforementioned review aggregators. The film also managed a very impressive $22,566 per screen average.

Also faring well was last week’s comedy “Wild Hogs” which dipped just 29% from its stellar $38 million opening last weekend and held very well against the competition, whilst “Ghost Rider” became 2007’s first film to pass the $100 million mark.