The production cost of the original “Star Wars”: was 10% of that for “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” ($11 million vs. $110 million); the original made more than half as much ($514 million vs. $922 million) as the sequel in worldwide box office receipts.
* * *Ghosts and aliens are characters in 10 of the 20 top-grossing films of all time: The “Star Wars” films, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Independence Day,” “The Sixth Sense,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Men in Black” and “Ghostbusters,” all released in the summer except “Grinch.” Animal stars also are big summer money makers: “Jurassic Park,” “The Lion King” and “Jaws” are all in the top 20.
* * *George Lucas’ “Star Wars” films have made $1.491 billion nationwide; Stephen Spielberg’s “E.T.,” the original “Jurassic Park” and its sequel, and “Saving Private Ryan” have made $1.462 billion combined. But one blockbuster director plus one blockbuster director does not equal two times the profits: Together, Lucas and Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones” films have made $619 million, less than a fourth of the total for their solo projects.
* * *Harrison Ford has made the most appearances in the 100 top-grossing films of all time, with nine, all summer hits.
* * *Only three of the 50 highest-grossing films of all time have a woman with top billing: Helen Hunt in “Twister,” Ellen Burstyn in “The Exorcist” and Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary.” The total goes up to five if “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Tootsie” are included: Men play the title women in those comedies.
* * *“Star Wars,” “E.T.” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” all were turnaround films; they went through development at one studio, but then were dropped and picked up by another. Also, Tom Selleck turned down the role of Indiana Jones, and Burt Reynolds opted to skip playing Han Solo.
* * *TV cartoons-turned-feature films have fared well at the summer box office, with “The Flintstones,” “George of the Jungle” and “Inspector Gadget” earning $131 million, $105 million, and $83 million, respectively.
* * *John Williams, the king of movie soundtracks, composed the original score for nine of the top 20 domestic-grossing films; eight of those are summer films.
* * *Tom Cruise’s most successful role was in “Mission: Impossible 2,” which garnered more than $215 million; his least successful was “The Color of Money,” making a quarter as much.
* * *Last year people spent more than $32 billion on lottery games — more than they spent on the theater, movies and recorded music combined.
* * *The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the American Pie.
* * *Stephen Spielberg’s crew bought up every snake they could find in the pet stores of south England for the Well of Souls sequence in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” When these were not nearly enough to achieve the effect the director was seeking, lengths of hose were cut to simulate more snakes.
* * *Oscar has been good to only a few of the summer film franchises. The “Star Wars” films have garnered the most with seven Academy Awards, six for the original “Star Wars” and one for “The Empire Strikes Back.” The “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” franchises are next with three each. The “Batman” franchise has only been handed one statuette. Other top-grossing summer releases to get Oscars are “E.T,” which received four, and “Independence Day” and “The Lion King,” with one each.
* * *Unused film footage from the summer hits “Top Gun” and “The Hunt for Red October” has been used in NBC’s Navy drama series “JAG.”
* * *Americans consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year, the Popcorn Institute reports. The average American eats about 68 quarts.
* * *In 1941, the average sailor made $7 a week; that’s $3 less than audiences will have to pay in New York City to see the film “Pearl Harbor” opening weekend.
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