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The Spartans do it again

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Gerard Butler, 300
300: Warner Bros. Ent.

The Spartans stayed strong this weekend, as the bloody graphic-novel adaptation 300 continued to dominate the box office. Director Zack Snyder’s stylized period epic dropped a sharp 56 percent from its record opening — as anticipated — but it still won the battle with $31.2 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. The film’s 10-day total is now $127.5 mil, it crossed the century mark faster than all but two other R-rated movies in history (The Matrix Reloaded and The Passion of the Christ), and it became the second 2007 release to do so, when it reached the plateau on Friday.

Then today it was joined in the $100 mil club by Wild Hogs (No. 2), which brought in another $18.8 mil this weekend on a minimal 32 percent decline. In its three-week joyride through the nation’s multiplexes, the comedy has sprouted some remarkably long legs (er, big wheels?); its $104 mil total already is nearly triple its $39.7 mil opening take. Wild Hogs now ranks as John Travolta’s biggest hit since Face/Off earned $112.3 mil nearly a decade ago, it’s the third-largest live-action triumph for costars Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence, and the fourth best for William H. Macy (who, though being the smallest star of the four, has appeared in character roles in smashes like Air Force One and Seabiscuit).

Still more milestones were met further down the rankings. With Premonition‘s $18 mil debut at No. 3, Sandra Bullock enjoyed the best bow of her career, beating the $16.2 mil first-weekend gross for 2002’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. But will her psychological thriller hold on to achieve blockbuster status? Probably not, if its poor CinemaScore grade of C is any indication. Premonition likely succeeded this weekend thanks to a dearth of similarly themed competition and overflow crowds that couldn’t get into some sold-out screenings of 300 and Wild Hogs. But its prospects for next weekend — when adult-skewing movies like Reign Over Me and Shooter premiere — are iffy at best.

Same goes for the other new releases, the horror flick Dead Silence (No. 4 with $7.8 mil) and Chris Rock’s domestic comedy I Think I Love My Wife (No. 5 with $5.7 mil), both of which underperformed even in a marketplace juiced by several hit movies. Actually, to be realistic, we probably won’t hear from these two movies again.

Overall, reports Paul at Media By Numbers, the continued strength of 300 and Wild Hogs — not to mention Bridge to Terabithia ($74.9 mil and counting), Ghost Rider ($110.2 mil), and Norbit ($92.4 mil) — meant that this weekend was up more than 8 percent over the same period last year. Indeed, with what appears to be a super-strong summer on the horizon (with Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), I’m actually finally maybe probably starting to believe the rosy industry rhetoric that we’ve been hearing for weeks now, that 2007 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years on record.

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