BV pic reaches B.O. milestone

Buena Vista’s Pixar production “A Bug’s Life” ascended to a worldwide gross of $300 million Thursday, becoming the 76th film and 12th animated or animated-live action release to reach that vaunted B.O. level.

Last week, Disney’s summer animated release “Mulan” also had passed that milestone, coincident with its debut in the Republic of China.

Disney, long dominant in feature animation, has its imprimatur on all dozen $300 million toons, dating back to its first — 1938’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” “The Lion King,” with slightly more than a $770 million theatrical gross, tops the toon group and ranks fifth among all-time global grossers.

It’s only in recent years that the Mouse House has had serious rivals in the cel bloc. Warner Bros.’ 1996 live-action-animation combo in “Space Jam” wound up with a $220 million worldwide report card. Presently, DreamWorks’ “The Prince of Egypt” and Paramount’s “The Rugrats Movie” are within $3 million of becoming the first non-Disney toons to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office.

“A Bug’s Life” is Pixar’s second feature project, following 1995’s “Toy Story,” which grossed $360 million. A “Toy Story” sequel will be released at Thanksgiving by the studio, which will unveil its toon “Tarzan” June 18.

Other upcoming animated releases include Warner Bros./Morgan Creek’s “The King and I” March 19; “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” from Paramount, which opens day-and-date against “Tarzan”; Warner Bros.’ “Iron Giant” in July and DreamWorks’ “El Dorado” set for early 2000.

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