The big films got bigger, the indies stole the critical thunder and the studio execs continued to decry the rising cost of making and marketing films, even as the $20 million star salary threshold became more established.

And everyone, it seemed, lined up to watch an “Independence Day” alien invasion of Earth.

This was the domestic movie business in 1996, a year that saw record-breaking grosses and some epochal flops. To help make sense of it all, Daily Variety this week offers its annual assessment of the film business, beginning today with Studio Wraps on Disney and Warner Bros., which finished Nos. 1 and 2 in market share.

The other studios will be spotlighted throughout the week, again arranged by market share for the year. Included are figures for the 1996 calendar year, as well as a look at the studios’ and indies’ slates for ’97. Coverage begins on page 6.

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