Major new player in studio specialty game

B.O.: $56 million

Top pic: “Babel,” $34 million

Exec suite: John Lesher, Nick Meyer, co-prexies; Rob Schultz, prexy, distribution

Analysis: Paramount Vantage has proven it’s a major new player in the studio specialty game. The coming months of mostly inhouse productions will prove a critical test.

On the heels of hit summer ’06 docu “An Inconvenient Truth,” Paramount Vantage started fall with respectable B.O. on “Babel” and two bona fide Oscar contenders. Other releases proved more challenging. Mike White’s “Year of the Dog” barely made a mark at the box office. “Black Snake Moan” received very mixed reviews and did just under $10 million.

Vantage had high hopes for its 2007 summer slate, anchored around Angelina Jolie starrer “A Mighty Heart,” about slain journo Daniel Pearl. Yet despite plenty of pre-release buzz and a high-profile Cannes preem, “Mighty Heart” couldn’t find its groove in a summer crowded with tentpoles.

Box office doldrums continued in late July, with Vantage and partner National Geographic Films unable to match the success of “The March of the Penguins” with docu “Arctic Tale.”

Up next:

  • “Into the Wild,” Sept. 21

  • “The Kite Runner,” Nov. 2

  • “Margot at the Wedding,” Nov. 16

  • “There Will Be Blood,” Dec. 26

  • “How She Move,” Jan. 25

  • “Son of Rambow,” 2008

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