Domestic distribution report

B.O. cume: $63 million

Toppers: Peter Rice, president; Stephen Gilula, prexy of distribution; Nancy Utley, prexy of marketing

Upcoming releases: “Separate Lies” (Sept. 16), “Roll Bounce” (Sept. 23), “Bee Season” (Nov. 11), “The Ringer” (Dec. 23), “Night Watch” (4th quarter)

Analysis: At the beginning of 2005, Fox Searchlight was the studio specialized division to beat. “Sideways” had five Oscar nominations, including best pic contender, and was well on its way to becoming the company’s most successful film ever, surpassing $100 million worldwide. Meanwhile, low-budget dynamo “Napoleon Dynamite” reached over $44 million and Zach Braff’s dramatic comedy “Garden State” grew to a solid $27 million. Proving its prestige smarts (“Kinsey”) as well as its genre know-how (“Johnson Family Vacation”), Searchlight was beaming all the way to the bank.

But the rest of ’05 hasn’t burned quite as brightly. In February, the company suffered a setback when production on the Russell Crowe/Nicole Kidman starrer “Eucalyptus” was postponed indefinitely. Without the Australian pic, the company’s kudos chances now rest on writer Julian Fellowes’ directorial debut “Separate Lies” and the adaptation of bestseller “Bee Season.”

Still, the spring release of Danny Boyle’s “Millions” generated $6.6 million and Woody Allen’s “Melinda and Melinda” made $3.8 million. Unit can also look forward to the Farrelly brothers-produced pic “The Ringer,” the first installment of Russian fantasy trilogy “Night Watch” and a remake of horror touchstone “The Hills Have Eyes.”

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