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Sony Pix tops $1 bil in domestic B.O.

First time studio hits mark two years in a row

HOLLYWOOD — Sony Pictures Entertainment may not be experiencing as boffo a year as it did in 2002, but the studio has surpassed the $1 billion mark in domestic box office receipts, the company announced Thursday.

It’s the first time the studio has hit the $1 billion mark two years in a row.

Contributing to the year’s box office tally are eight pics that debuted at No. 1: Revolution Studio’s thriller “Darkness Falls” and comedy “Anger Management”; Col’s thriller “Identity” and the summer blockbusters “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” “Bad Boys II” and “S.W.A.T.”; and this fall’s “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” and Screen Gems’ “Underworld.”

The slate has proved less spectacular than last year’s, however; 2002 saw megahits like “Spider-Man,” “Mr. Deeds” and “Men in Black 2” gross a total of $1.27 billion for the studio.

But a slew of year-end releases look to boost numbers, particularly Nancy Meyer’s Jack Nicholson starrer “Something’s Gotta Give” and Tim Burton’s fantastical “Big Fish.” Ron Howard’s “The Missing” and the Julia Roberts starrer “Mona Lisa Smile” are also expected to turn rosy numbers for the studio.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that success breeds profitability,” said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of SPE and prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. “But it does mean that you’re bringing films to the market in an impactful way and that you’re beating the competition.”

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