Though "300: Rise of an Empire" is excessively macho, Eva Green — the film's fiercest presence — may have drawn females for what was always going to be a male-centric release. Whereas the female audience for the first "300" was only 29 percent, it was 38 percent for "Rise of an Empire."
"Talk about female empowerment," said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said of the "Casino Royale" actress.
Noting the popularity of 3-D and IMAX screenings for the movie, Goldstein credited the visual panache of producer Snyder (Noam Murro took over directing), who drew directly from Frank Miller's graphic novels: "He brings a lot to the screen that mesmerizes you."
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, said the "300" franchise "translates to virtually every culture. Every country can appreciate the visuals of these movies."
The week's other new wide release, 20th Century Fox's animated "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," opened in second with $32.5 million. Though the performance was better than some expected, it's a relatively low total for a film that cost about $140 million to make.
The film is based on the cartoon about a time-traveling boy and his brilliant dog from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." Some of the family film market was likely taken by Warner Bros.' hit "The Lego Movie," which added $11 million in its fifth weekend.
The Liam Neeson thriller "Non-Stop" slid to third place with $15.4 million in the Universal release's second weekend after topping the box office last week.
In limited release, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" made an astounding average of $200,000 on four screens in New York and Los Angeles. Fox Searchlight will expand the film by 65 to 75 theaters next week.
The specialty studio also celebrated the best picture Oscar win for "12 Years a Slave" with a notable bump of $2.2 million, even though it was released on DVD and video-on-demand Tuesday. That was up 123 percent on the prior weekend for the film, which first opened in November.
"12 Years a Slave" drew even more international interest, where it made $9.1 million as moviegoers flocked to see the Academy Award winner.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake—coyle