B.O. breaks records, big bows power wickets

June box office shattered all prior frames with a staggering $733.2 million gross for the 30-day span.

Boffo debuts and strong holds propelled the month to a 25% B.O. boost from the former record-setting period established last year. It was also a standard bearer for admissions, with an estimated 148.3 million tickets sold.

It was not simply the dynamic launches of such pics as New Line’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” Disney’s “Tarzan” and Columbia’s “Big Daddy” that rewrote the books. Additionally, those films had stronger than usual holds, and the continuing runs of Fox/Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace,” Universal’s “Notting Hill” and Paramount’s “The General’s Daughter” were all impressive. Approaching the July 4th weekend, every major summer release has had remarkably solid commercial response.

Fox narrowly led New Line for the month in market share with its releases racking up a combined gross of $160 million for a 21.8% slice of the B.O. pie. However, the best-performing title of the frame belonged to New Line’s shaggy spy, “Austin Powers.”

The presence of so many films playing at peak levels cut into the niche market. June’s top seven box office movies accounted for just shy of 80% of monthly biz, compared with a 66% share among 1998’s best grossers. Still, several platforms appeared to be working, including Miramax’s “An Ideal Husband,” Sony Classic’s German import “Run Lola Run” and “The Red Violin” from Lions Gate. Large- format movies also held their own against the onslaught of the seasonal blockbusters.

Admissions experienced a single- year boost of 18% and surpassed the former all-time June (1993, led by “Jurassic Park”) by 15%.

Following “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” the month’s top-performing pictures (in descending order) were: Fox’s “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace,” Buena Vista’s “Tarzan,” Universal’s “Notting Hill,” Sony’s “Big Daddy,” Paramount’s “The General’s Daughter,” Buena Vista’s “Instinct,” Universal’s “The Mummy,” Fox’s “Entrapment” and Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix.”

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