Zack Snyder's résumé used to contain car commercials and a few music videos.
But now, Snyder's adaptation of comic book legend Frank Miller's "300" mini-series earned more than $456 million around the globe, thanks to its stylized look and feel, high-stakes story line and cast of mostly unknown but extremely buff actors. Warner Bros. entrusted Snyder with a $65 million budget, based on the modest budget of his feature film debut, the moderately successful remake of "Dawn of the Dead."
Snyder wrote and produced this weekend's sequel, "300: Rise of an Empire," but he handed the director reigns to another TV commercial veteran. Israeli born director Noam Murro leads a new cast featuring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey and Hans Matheson. "Rise of an Empire" takes place before, during and after the events of "300." It's based on the long-gestating "Xerxes," a new five-issue mini-series Miller has been working on for several years.
Box-office analysts projected a $45 million opening for the "300" follow-up. Its biggest competition, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," should be a distant second with around $30 million. The DreamWorks Animation movie features characters from the "Rocky & Bullwinkle" television show that was most popular in the 1960s. "Modern Family" star Ty Burrell voices the talking dog, with Sherman's voice provided by child actor Max Charles, last seen as the young Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man."
Last year, "The Croods" went on to unexpected success after opening in late March. Like "Mr. Peabody," "The Croods" was a 3D animation movie made by DreamWorks and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Of course, "The Croods" didn't have "The LEGO Movie" or the billion dollar hit "Frozen" in theaters.
DVD sales for "Frozen" were beating "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" on Amazon on Thursday. "12 Years a Slave" has been available for digital rental and purchase for the last two weeks, but Fox Searchlight is bumping the Best Picture winner's theater count from 411 to 2,000. The movie won three Oscars on Sunday and has earned $50.7 million domestically thus far.
There should be some sort of Oscar bounce for all of the nominated films that are still in theaters, though many of them are now available to rent or buy. "Dallas Buyer's Club" has made more than $25 million domestically. "Gravity" was the biggest commercial success of all of the Best Picture nominees by a wide margin, with more than $270.8 million in domestic receipts. "American Hustle" trailed with $147.1 million.
Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" opens in four locations in New York and Los Angeles. Box Office Mojo noted that the two locations carrying Anderson's eighth feature (the Arclight and Landmark) had 18 show times per day on Friday, a clear sign of high expectations.
Last week's #1 movie, Liam Neeson's "Non-Stop," should hang around the top five. "Son of God" is expected to do so, as well.