March 11, 2007

Clash of Civilizations


From CNN: 300 Spartans sack movie theatres.

The ancient battle of Thermopylae was the stuff of 2007's first certified blockbuster as the bloody action tale "300" debuted with $70 million over opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That's about $233,000 for every one of the legendary 300 Spartan soldiers who fought off a much larger Persian force in the epic battle.

"On a Spartan-by-Spartan basis, that's a lot of money," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "Summer came a little early, because this is a summer-style opening."

The number of movie-goers for the Warner Bros. epic "300" outnumbered crowds for the rest of the top-10 movies combined. If the estimate holds when final numbers are released Monday, "300" would break the record for best March debut ever, topping the $68 million haul for "Ice Age: The Meltdown" last year.

"300" played in 3,103 theaters, about 850 fewer than the "Ice Age" sequel, making its box-office performance even more notable. The movie averaged $22,567 a theater, a whopping number for a wide release.

The total for "300" includes $3.4 million from 62 IMAX theaters, a record opening weekend for the large-screen format.

Buoyed by "300" and some solid holdovers, Hollywood business soared, with the top-12 movies taking in $139.4 million, up 49 percent from the same weekend last year.

Here's the the Web site for "300" movie, which is of course based on Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same title. The cartoon was inspired by art from the book.

For some historical perspective, see Victor Davis Hanson's History and the Movie "300".

... 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

Also see the excellent History Channel documentary Last Stand of the 300.

Posted by Forkum at March 11, 2007 07:50 PM