"300: Rise of an Empire" slays the competition at the domestic box office. Seven years after the original made a thunderous debut with $70.9 million, the 3D movie arrives with a solid $45.1 million. Though it's a far cry of the first film's opening number which was collected without the benefit of 3D ticket prices, it's enough to win the race to the top spot against "Mr. Peabody & Sherman".
Directed by Noam Murro with the original director Zack Snyder serving as a producer, "Rise of a Empire" doesn't carry the usual follow-up story, but rather follows events that are concurrent with what happened in the first film. Despite the male-centric tone, the second film draws more female (38 percent) than the original (29 percent).
Following the style of the first film that was full of CGI and slow motion combats, "Rise of Empire" gets an average B grade from CinemaScore. It is led by Sullivan Stapleton as the Greece commander and Eva Green as the leader of Persian army, and sees the return of Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo and Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes.
Overseas, "Rise of Empire" is also a champion with much bigger ticket sales. It opened to $87.8 million from 58 markets outside the states for a worldwide gross of $132.9 million. Russian audience was the biggest contributors with $9.2 million, followed by France with $7.2 million, South Korea with $6.5 million and Brazil with $5.8 million.
"Mr. Peabody" settles at the second place with an estimated $32.5 million. The animated film which arrived earlier overseas took in another $21 million over the weekend for a foreign total of $66 million and worldwide gross of $98.5 million. The movie gets an A CinemaScore with its story that revolves around a brilliant talking dog and his human boy pal.
The movie is based on the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments from the 1960s animated TV show "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show". It's voiced by the likes of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann and Stanley Tucci. The family movie is likely hampered by strong kiddie-friendly holdover "The Lego Movie" as the latter sits at No. 4 with an estimated $11 million.
Last week's No. 1, "Non-Stop", falls to the third position with another $15.4 million for a domestic total of $52 million. The action thriller starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyong'o revolves around an airplane hijacking.
Several spot lowers, another Nyong'o movie, "12 Years a Slave", returns to the top 10 at No. 9. Fresh off its big win at the Academy Awards, the historical slavery drama directed by Steve McQueen expanded into more than 1,000 theaters and successfully adds approximately $2.2 million over the post-Oscar weekend.
Outside the top 10, Wes Anderson's limited release "The Grand Budapest Hotel" collects an impressive $800,000 from only four theaters in the U.S, averaging $200,000 from each location. Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" grossed $242,127 at five theaters during its opening day back in November 2012, and Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" posted an average of $130,752 at four locations in May the same year. "Grand Budapest Hotel" boasts a star-studded cast like Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and Owen Wilson. The film is expected to get expanded into 65 to 75 theaters next week.