June B.O. hits down time

It was a summer bummer as June box office lagged 15% with a monthly cume of $493 million from the 1996 record frame. It was the first time in five years that the marketplace dipped below $500 million for the month and, accordingly, ticket sales plunged dramatically.

June admissions are estimated at 108.6 million, off 14% from last year and 15% from the record 1993 session when “Jurassic Park” roared.

Buena Vista emerged as the market champ with a 25.3% share from such films as “Con Air,” “Hercules” and “Gone Fishin.’ ” The distrib gross totalled $124.7 million for the frame. The lineup of top companies closely mirrored last year with Warner Bros., Universal and Sony trailing the Mouse House in formation.

Universal’s “The Lost World” was again the top individual performing pic. Seven films — mostly event titles — accounted for 78% of the month’s box office as specialized fare dug into its niche locales until fall. Still, several films, including “Ulee’s Gold” and “The Pillow Book,” were playing very well outside the mainstream.

While major releases have been opening with greater strength than in past summers, they’ve also been burning up faster. The shorter theatrical life span is the prime factor behind the dip in both ticket sales and box office.

Following “The Lost World,” the top grossing pictures (in descending order) were: Buena Vista’s “Con Air,” Warner Bros.’ “Batman & Robin,” Sony’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” Fox’s “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” Buena Vista’s “Hercules,” Paramount’s “Face/Off,” Warner Bros.’ “Addicted to Love,” Buena Vista’s “Gone Fishin’|” and New Line’s “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

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