"300: Rise of an Empire" is out this weekend, and there's no way it's going to pack a bigger punch than the original at theaters.
The (not-so) sequel to 2007's "300" is expected to take in $33-$40 million opening weekend. While it should command the box office over DreamWorks Animation's "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" flick, that's about less than half of "300" which took in $70.9 million.
The original Zack Snyder-directed film went on to make more than $456 million worldwide, costing an estimated $65 million to make.
"Rise of an Empire," produced and written by Snyder as his focus has shifted to the DC universe ("Man of Steel," the delayed Batman vs. Superman film) for Warner Bros., costs $100 million.
Why isn't the more costly "300" sequel going to do as well this weekend?
This shouldn't be much of a surprise.
It’s not a real sequel.
This is more of a spinoff to “300" that takes place before, during, and after the first film.
A better way to describe the follow-up is as a movie that runs parallel to the original. Instead of picking up where we last left off, the film, based off of Frank Miller’s follow-up graphic novel “Xerxes,” shows Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) going up against Persian army led by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green).
Where's the star power?
Clearly, this is not Sparta.
Gerard Butler, the star of the first film, will not be back in the sequel.
His "300" character became wildly popular inspiring a huge internet meme.
The star of the first movie originally expressed interest in the film if the script and timing were right. He later told MTV News he wasn’t signing on for the sequel.
“I wish them the best, but it didn't [work out]. It wasn't really my thing.”
You can also count out Michael Fassbender. He's now an Oscar-nominated star.
Instead, Eva Green, starring as the tough-as-nails Artemisia, is the biggest name in this sequel. You'll remember her from 2006 James Bond film "Casino Royale." Joining her are a cast of widely unknown talent from Sullivan Stapleton ("Gangster Squad") and Rodrigo Santoro ("I Love You Phillip Morris"). Lena Headey reprise her role of Queen Gorgo but serves as a narrator to help keep viewers from getting confused.
The movie isn't being well-received by critics.
The problem? While its better than similar box-office duds "Hercules," and "Pompeii," it's not better than “300.”
Here's what a few top critics are saying about the movie:
“The spectacularly brutal fighting is the film's main calling card, and in that ‘Rise of an Empire’ doesn't disappoint. Still, in the battle for best guilty pleasure, I'd give it to the Spartans of ‘300,’ by a head.”
“The naval collisions and melees play out in panel-like renderings that are bold and satisfying for the first half-hour but lack the momentum and bombastic je ne sais quoi of ‘300.’”
"This highly entertaining time-filler lacks the mythic resonances that made “300” feel like an instant classic, but works surprisingly well on its own terms."