Iron Man, Indy power Paramount at box office
By Carl DiOrio
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Now we have a horse race -- a box office derby, that is.
Just weeks after Fox sat atop a big lead in year-to-date domestic totals, Paramount has blown past its crosstown rival on the strength of a comic book superhero and an adventuresome archaeologist. And despite a big misfire by its car-race family film, "Speed Racer," Warner Bros. suddenly is charging hard on the derby leaders thanks to a heady weekend of "Sex."
The weekend's overachieving $57 million bow by female-magnet "Sex and the City" renewed Warners' chances at summertime glory.
A studio's entire year can hinge on how its big summer "tentpoles" perform, with seasonal tallies representing about 40% of annual sales.
Of course, it's still early in summer 2008, and all three year-to-date leaders have important films set to bow before Labor Day.
For now, Paramount rides a $163.1 million lead over Fox, with the former boasting a 20% market share on $729.4 million in year-to-date grosses, according to Nielsen EDI. Fox's $566.3 million is good for a 15.5% market share, while Warners rounds out the top three with a 13.9% share on $509 million.
Paramount's leading performance has been built chiefly on distribution success with a couple of films it doesn't own -- Marvel Studios' "Iron Man" ($276 million) and Lucasfilm's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" ($215 million). The studio should pad its chart-topping advantage further this weekend when it unspools another such film: DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda."
"Panda" looks likely to open somewhere north of $40 million, with Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" its only major rival. The second weekend of "Sex" could be a tad limp if its box office draw proves unusually frontloaded, and the Indy sequel already has proven a one-week wonder after absorbing a big 55 percent second-session drop-off in grosses. Continued...