Robots and ogre power Paramount to box office lead

Fri Jan 4, 2008 9:49am EST
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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - From menacing Spartan warriors to chipper singing chipmunks, 2007's boxoffice attractions spanned the gamut. Following a heated summer, there was a cooling-off spell during the fall, but the year still saw the domestic box office gross climb to a record $9.62 billion.

As a result, when it came time for the major studios to carve up the pie, there were plenty of healthy slices to go around. For the first time ever, five studios crossed the $1 billion mark with their domestic tallies, led by Paramount Pictures with $1.49 billion.

The studio benefited mightily from its 2005 acquisition of DreamWorks, which contributed such early hits as "Norbit" ($95.3 million) and "Blades of Glory" ($118.2 million). Paramount got a $321 million shot of adrenaline by distributing DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third." By the Fourth of July weekend, the $319.1 million-grossing "Transformers," a DreamWorks/Paramount co-production, assured the Melrose Avenue studio's eventual victory. The only studio to boast two $300 million-plus grossers, Paramount claimed a market share of 15.5 percent, up from its fifth-ranked 2006 share of 10.4 percent.

Warner Bros., which dipped to an uncharacteristic fourth place in market share in 2006, bounced back to second thanks in part to "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" ($292 million), the second-best domestic grosser in the series. Additional fantasy in the form of "300" ($210.6 million) and "I Am Legend" ($206 million to date) fueled the flames. For the year, the studio earned $1.42 billion with a 14.7 percent share, up from 11.6 percent in 2006.

Disney (No. 3, $1.36 billion) and 2006 champ Sony (No. 4, $1.24 billion) relied on the tried and true with respective threequels "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($309.4 million) and "Spider-Man 3" ($336.5 million), the year's No. 1 movie. Both lost market share.

Disney, which sharpened its focus on family-friendly fare, enjoyed a late hit with "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" ($143 million to date). Its market share fell to 14.1 percent from 16.1 percent in 2006, when it ranked No. 2.

Sony found a couple more $100 million grossers in "Ghost Rider" and "Superbad," and the studio's Screen Gems label delivered admirable returns from such movies as "Stomp the Yard" ($61 million) and "Resident Evil: Extinction" ($51 million). Its market share slid to 12.9 percent from 18.6 percent.

Universal rose one place to No. 5 as its market share jumped to 11.4 percent from 8.7 percent. "The Bourne Ultimatum" ($227.4 million) built on the success of its predecessors, while the studio also found lucrative laughter in "Knocked Up" ($148.7 million) and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" ($119.7 million).

D'oh! Fox slid three places to No. 6, and its market share dropped by almost a third to 10.5 percent. Thanks to holiday audiences' warm embrace of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" ($154 million to date), Fox squeaked into the billion-dollar club with $1.1 billion. Its top release was "The Simpsons Movie" ($183.1 million).

As they did in 2006, New Line and MGM brought up the rear, with respective shares of 5.1 percent and 3.8 percent, both about double from the year before.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Cameron Diaz poses during a media event before the premiere of "Shrek the Third" in Taipei May 25, 2007. From menacing Spartan warriors to chipper singing chipmunks, 2007's boxoffice attractions spanned the gamut. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV</p>