Projection Booth: No Battle Here — ’300′ Will Triumph Over ‘Hogs’

Middle-aged bikers will be no competition for Spartans.

All right, midlife-crisis-addled men: Move on.

After a genuinely huge opening last week ($39.7 million!) by the John Travolta-led “Wild Hogs,” all signs point to the ascent of a new box-office champ this week in the form of “300.” It’s time for a battle, and unlike its heroes, “300″ is by no means overmatched at the box office this weekend.

The buzz has been deafening (at least for a spring release) for this testosterone-charged epic ever since the first trailers hit last year. By now the only question is, just how big can “300″ be? The film is inspired by the Battle of Thermopylae and the graphic novel of the same name by the revered Frank Miller. Like Miller’s own adaptation (in tandem with Robert Rodriguez) of “Sin City,” this movie employs the latest green-screen effects to create a world seemingly lifted from the book’s pages.

However, while the film clearly earns high style points, “300″ has no stars (with apologies to “Phantom of the Opera” vet Gerard Butler). “Sin City” at least had an all-star ensemble going for it, not to mention Jessica Alba in chaps. Still, Hollywood seems to know something, since the path has truly cleared for director Zack Snyder’s sophomore outing (see “Vintage Violence: Director Zack Snyder’s ’300′ “ ). “300″ faces no other wide releases this week. Indeed, its only major competition comes from the surprise hit “Wild Hogs” (see ” ‘Wild Hogs’ Zooms Past ‘Zodiac’ In Box-Office Race” ). And don’t be surprised if that flick, which clearly touched a nerve with someone, sticks around the top five with a strong showing. Yes, there are even rumors of a “Wild Hogs 2″ already. Nothing surprises us anymore.

The Predictions: Ryan Pinkston clearly knows something about the green-screen technology that “300″ favors. He starred in Robert Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids 3-D,” which made a lot of use of the cost-cutting innovation. Has that swayed his pick as he joins us in the Projection Booth? You’ll have to wait until the numbers are in on Monday to make that determination. Until then, check out the “Punk’d” alum’s new film “Full of It.”

What’s the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “300″ ($27 million)
“I can’t wait to see the warriors of ’300′ turn their swords on the ‘Wild Hogs’ this weekend. Tim Allen vs. Leonidas? No contest. I do see Zack Snyder’s swords-and-sandals epic as more word-of-mouth than super-huge opening, however, so I’ll say it will win with $27 million.”

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “300″ ($45 million)
“I remember when ‘Gladiator’ came out it reminded me how much I love these kinds of flicks. Back then, that flick had me at the Russell Crowe line ‘At my signal, unleash hell.’ This one had me by the time the trailer hit and Gerard Butler screamed, ‘This is Sparta!’ I second Butler’s enthusiasm and say, ‘This will be huge!’ ”

Ryan Pinkston, star of “Full of It”: “300″ ($40 million)
“I’m gonna have to go with ’300,’ ’cause I’m personally really excited about it. It has a crazy look to it, and I think Frank Miller is a genius. I’m a big fan of movies like ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Troy’ — this movie doesn’t look as realistic as those, but I think that’s what makes it cool.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “300.”

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