Universal's market share drops

The record-breaking summer at the domestic B.O. ended with Warners and Paramount leading in market share for the second year in a row, but below the No. 2 spot on the list of majors, the rankings shifted substantially.

Universal had the roughest time, falling from No. 3 last summer to No. 6. Twentieth Century Fox and Disney both climbed up the ladder, to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, after trailing last year. Sony remained relatively static, dropping one rung to No. 5.

Market share and profitability don’t necessarily go hand in hand, since market share doesn’t account for how much a studio has spent on production and marketing. But because perception matters, market share can keep studio toppers awake at night.

Through Labor Day, Warner pics generated just under $1 billion in domestic ticket sales for the summer sesh. That was led by $297.6 million for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” followed by $272.2 million for R-rated comedy “The Hangover,” the sleeper blockbuster of the summer sesh.

“Hangover” reps a substantial victory for Warner Bros. Pictures Group prexy Jeff Robinov, who has made it a top goal to get the studio into the comedy biz.

Warners had expected “Terminator Salvation” to be its second big title after “Half-Blood Prince,” but the reboot topped out at $125.3 million. Last year, Warners titles collected $1.09 billion at the box office, with Christopher Nolan’s batpic “The Dark Knight” grossing $504.8 million alone.

Paramount’s pics took in roughly $884 million, compared to $970 million in 2008. Michael Bay’s sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” jumped the $400 million mark over the Labor Day frame. Estimated cume through Monday was $400.7 million, making it the top-grossing title of the year domestically.

Par stuck to big tentpoles this summer in the hopes of stocking its franchise biz. J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” was successful in relaunching the classic sci-fi franchise. August release “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” also has done well enough to warrant a sequel.

“Star Trek” cumed $257.2 million through Monday, “Cobra,” $140.9 million.

Strikeouts for Par included Eddie Murphy starrer “Imagine That,” which grossed a meager $16.1 million. Last summer, Fox’s Murphy pic “Meet Dave” likewise disappointed.

Fox had a tough time in summer 2008 but made dramatic gains in market share this summer with three tentpoles: “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which has cumed roughly $194 million; “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” $180 million; and “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” $176.5 million.

Studio didn’t do so well with titles left over from Fox Atomic, the studio’s now-shuttered genre division. “Post Grad” has grossed $5.8 million.

Fox and Disney ended Labor Day in a market share dead heat, with their summer pics scoring roughly $610 million-$620 million in ticket sales.

In summer 2008, Fox titles generated $271.4 million in ticket sales as the studio had no tentpoles. Disney titles generated $379.8 million in summer ’08.

Disney and Fox had more in common than improving their market share ranking. Both benefited from having 3-D toons and the added charge for a 3-D ticket. Disney had two: Disney/Pixar’s “Up” and, more recently, “G-Force.”

“Up’s” domestic cume of $290.9 million makes it the fifth highest grossing animated pic of all time. “G-Force” cume through Monday was $115.4 million.

Last year’s Disney/Pixar summer title “Wall-E” grossed $218.4 million.

The Mouse House also spun box office gold with Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal.” A sleeper hit, “Proposal” cumed $160.4 million, the best ever for an R-rated summer romantic comedy.

Sony had a solid summer at roughly $550 million in ticket sales, led by Ron Howard sequel “Angels and Demons” at $133.4 million. Like other May tentpoles, “Angels” was hurt by the competish, at least domestically.

After “Angels,” the studio had no other tentpoles.

Studio’s summer titles ended up lower than last summer’s $594.3 million last summer, when Will Smith starrer “Hancock” led with $227.4 million in B.O. revs.

Sony scored a key box office victory with sci-fi thriller “District 9,” which quickly became a sleeper hit despite the fact that the South Africa-set film had no stars. Through Monday, domestic cume was $103.3 million.

Sony released two female-skewing pics in the latter half of summer, romantic comedy “The Ugly Truth” and “Julie and Julia.”

“Ugly Truth” wasn’t able to reach the heights of “Proposal,” but still did respectable business, grossing $87.6 million through Labor Day. “Julie and Julia” has been a steady earner, grossing $80.6 million through Monday.

In an unorthodox move, Sony released Denzel Washington-John Travolta thriller-actioner “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” during the summer, instead of fall, a frame usually reserved for adult titles. Film grossed $65.4 million at the domestic B.O. While not a financial loser, pic came in on the lower end of expectations.

Sony’s summer stumble was Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy “Year One,” which grossed $42.3 million at the domestic B.O.

Universal’s summer titles generated roughly $340 million-$350 million in ticket sales, half the $716 million posted in summer 2008.

None of the films were able to jump the $100 million mark domestically. Johnny Depp gangster pic “Public Enemies” came the closest, cuming about $97.1 million. As with “Pelham,” “Public Enemies” played heavily to adults.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” also disappointed, grossing $60.1 million domestically. U says neither “Public Enemies,” directed by Michael Mann, nor “Bruno” took a loss after taking foreign returns into consideration.

The same can’t be said for Adam Sandler-Seth Rogen starrer “Funny People” or Will Ferrell topliner “Land of the Lost.” Both films failed to find their auds. “Funny People” cumed $51.5 million; “Land of the Lost,” $49.4 million.

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