The new 3D Greco-Persian epic from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures began its box office charge with $3.3 million in ticket sales from Thursday night showings in the U.S. and Canada.
That's a strong start for the bloody $100-million sequel, which is expected to pull in roughly $45 million through Sunday. That would mark a solid domestic debut, though not as powerful as the 2007 original.
The first "300" opened seven years ago with nearly $71 million and went on to gross $456 million worldwide, with slightly more than half of the total coming from overseas.
"Rise of an Empire" is expected to do well in foreign markets and bows in 58 countries this weekend. It opened in France on Wednesday and cut up $1.83 million, beating the opening day of the first "300" in that country and topping the French films currently running.
In North America, "Rise of an Empire" is expected to be the No. 1 picture at the box office this weekend, with the 3D animated Dreamworks comedy "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" likely to gross around $30 million. The film based on Jay Ward's characters -- the hyper-intelligent dog and his adopted boy companion -- cost $145 million to make.
Also opening is the new Wes Anderson movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which will play in four locations in New York and Los Angeles. Fox Searchlight Pictures is releasing it in the U.S.
Fox Searchlight is more than doubling the number of theaters for its best-picture Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave." The antebellum drama will make its victory run in more than 1,000 theaters.