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Box office: '300' sequel rises to the top

MoviesEntertainment300: Rise of an EmpireLiam NeesonEva GreenJay Ward

The sequel "300: Rise of an Empire" is proving unstoppable at the box office on its opening weekend, earning more than $17 million on Friday, according to estimates.

The number adds to an already strong start for the 3-D Greco-Persian epic, which earned $3.3 million in its Thursday night screenings across the U.S. and Canada. The film is expected to earn $45 million this weekend, which would place it well behind the first "300." That film opened in 2007 with nearly $71 million in sales and eventually took home $456 million worldwide.

"Rise of an Empire" outperformed the animated Dreamworks comedy "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," which also opened this weekend. The film based on characters by "Bullwinkle" creator Jay Ward earned an estimated $8 million on Friday, and it is expected to finish the weekend in second place with $30 million.

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In third place, the Liam Neeson-led thriller "Non-Stop" took in an estimated $4.7 million in its second weekend, followed by the biblical epic "Son of God," which earned an estimated $2.7 million.

Also opening this weekend in limited release, Wes Anderson's latest film "The Grand Budapest Hotel" debuted in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It earned an estimated $260,000 on Friday.

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Twitter: @chrisbarton

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MoviesEntertainment300: Rise of an EmpireLiam NeesonEva GreenJay Ward
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