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'300' sets March record with $70 million at box office

David Hinckley
New York Daily News (MCT)

The bloody, ultraviolent movie "300," the latest in a string of action-packed comic book adaptations, raked in a staggering $70 million this weekend - the biggest March opening ever.

Based loosely on a tale of 300 Spartan warriors who take on a huge Persian army, the movie features decapitations, slaughtered babies and lots of computer-generated gore.

The movie got its look from a graphic novel by Frank Miller, whose equally lethal and explicit "Sin City" became a modest hit in 2005.

With no A-list actors, "300" went for an epic effect on the relatively modest budget of $60 million - which in three days it has more than covered.

It becomes the latest in a series of comic-book adaptations that has tapped into a large audience of young male comic-book fans.

These fans most recently trooped out to see "Ghost Rider," the Nicolas Cage flick that opened last month and this weekend became the year's first $100 million movie.

On the screen, "300" offers a splash of sex followed by a long ballet of violent death, with heads rolling across the battlefield amid buckets of blood.

This stands in contrast to the film that previously held the March opening weekend record: the animated "Ice Age: The Meltdown," at $68.3 million.

To Hollywood, it all looks like cash. Thanks to "300," the top 12 films this weekend made $136.7 million, compared with $93.3 million for the same weekend last year, when No. 1 was the romantic comedy "Failure to Launch."

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