WARNER TOP OF MARKET
Copyright 2001 www.variety.com
[ December 25th 2001 ]
is the measure of success weekend by weekend,
but studio reputations are made with market share.
For Warner Bros., it's been a banner year on both
counts. Distrib finished tops in weekend B.O.
for 11 frames, and Warners will take the domestic
market share crown for 2001 - its first victory
which was last year's top grosser and a frequent
frontrunner, will finish no better than third
this year. Through Dec. 16, Warners took in $1.11
billion from a total of 30 pics including two
dozen 2001 releases to date. That repped a first-place
15% market share; Universal was in second place
end, Warners had Jim Carrey starrer "The Majestic"
in theaters, plus "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone" and "Ocean's Eleven" still going strong.
In fact, Warners is gunning for Sony's record
$1.259 billion of 1997. "Warner Bros. has a shot
at the all-time number," says Dan Marks, exec
veep at B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI. "To do that,
'Harry Potter' will have to rev up for the holiday
period - which it should."
distrib topper Dan Fellman agrees - with a caveat.
"As we get closer to the Christmas holidays, you'll
get an indication of how well the existing movies
held," he notes. Fellman credits a strong '01
release sked by production heads Alan Horn and
Lorenzo DiBonaventura. "Our organization is only
as good as the product that we sell," the distribution
it's a lock that '01 will set another new B.O.
record, though it's less likely the year will
manage to break the all-time admissions mark.
There's still some suspense over whether this
year will break the $8 billion mark in annual
B.O. That would be a first, but it's likely receipts
will have to climb even considerably higher if
'01 is to break the 1998 admissions record of
1.44 billion tickets sold.
because the average ticket cost only $4.59 in
'97 but should shake out somewhere around $5.60
when things are calculated at year's end. "If
we exceed $8 billion for 2001 and the uptick in
ticket prices is relatively modest, then we have
a chance of breaking the 1998 admissions record,"
EDI's Marks says. "The $8 billion looks likely,
and in any even we'll likely beat last year's
1.39 billion admissions." Industry B.O. totaled
$7.46 billion in 2000, according to EDI data.
at U, which nipped at the Mouse's heels down to
the wire in last year's domestic market share
race, were feeling good about their finishing
a strong second once again. Distrib grossed $914.1
million domestically through Dec. 16 to No. 3
Disney's $854.2 (11.4%). "I'm extraordinarily
pleased with the year we've had," U distrib boss
Nikki Rocco says. "And on an average per-film,
we're higher than (Warners)." Indeed, U's 22 pics
-including 16 new releases - repped $41.5 million
per title, roughly 13% higher than Warners average
it must be noted that B.O. isn't the only ingredient
of theatrical success. It's also nice to turn
a profit, and too often majors' feature divisions
manage to do that only after getting ancillary
income from homevid and TV distribution.
issue for us is not about market share, and we
are consistently profitably on an annual basis,"
Paramount vice chairman Rob Friedman says. "Our
focus is on profitability and making the movies
that we believe are ready to be made and that
we can focus our attention on --not only in their
making but in their marketing." A fourth-place
finish is most likely for Par this year. Distrib
grossed $795 million through Dec. 16 - repping
almost an 11% market share - courtesy of 16 pics,
including 13 new releases that featured some surprisingly
romancer "Save the Last Dance," which exceeded
expectations both creatively and commercially,
grossed a total of $89 million, and modestly budgeted
suspenser "Along Came a Spider" delivered a highly
profitable $74 million domestically. Such singles
and doubles added to Par's home-run profitability
from occasional tentpole releases like "Lara Croft:
Tomb Raider" ($131.2 million).
marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake also finds
solace in the bottom line after a year in which
the distrib ranks only mid-pack in market share.
"We didn't have any of the high-profile blockbusters,
but most of our pictures were profitable," Blake