You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Sound of Music’ Breaks All-Time Box Office Record

The cash tills were alive with “The Sound of Music” all during 1966, as was predicted in last year’s box office champions story. It is the new leader of the all-time list, having added $22,500,000 to the $20,000,000 garnered domestically in 1965 to put it ahead of long-time champ “Gone With The Wind” by a slight margin. How long this will last should be worth watching as 1967 will certainly add considerable sums to both films.

“Sound of Music” still has the vast majority of its regular-run bookings to play, but Metro plans a special reissue of “Gone With The Wind” this year, blown up to 70m, which will insure certain heavy response. On its last time out, in 1961, the saga of Scarlett O’Hara added almost $8,000,000 to its total.

Noticeable by t h e i r absence from the 1966 compilation (see adjoining page) are three major films: Fox’s “The Bible,” Paramount’s “Is Paris Burning?” and, as was also true last year, United Artists’ “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” The omissions are due to the refusal of the distribution companies to reveal the business done (or, possibly, not done) by these films. That any measure of success has been disappointing is hardly news to the film industry. However, other films, released since these three, have been reported on, including UA’s “Hawaii.” It is hoped Fox. Paramount and UA will consent by the time the 1967 list is published, to clarify the situation; perhaps not.

‘Alfie’ & ‘Mr. Chicken’

There were at least two “sleepers” of note during 1966. The big one, of course, was Paramount’s “Alfie,” which came onto the U.S. market an unknown quantity despite its spectacular success in its native Britain. Besides a repeat of that popularity here, possibly helped by the advance work done for star Michael Caine by “Ipcress Files,” the possibility of an Oscar nomination will give the film another tremendous shot in the arm. The second “sleeper,” Universal “Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” proved that unsophisticated product doesn’t need the much-touted New York kickoff to hit the jackpot. The continued strength of carefully- planned reissues of major productions (as Disney has long preached) was also emphasized by Paramount’s 1957 “Ten Commandments,” upping its score by doss ;o $6,000,000, to stay in third place.

Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins” manages to keep just ahead of Jack Warner’s “My Fair Lady” by a close margin — in the film business today, $1,000,000 is a close margin. What will be the eventual history of these two? As almost all Disney films are withdrawn while still popular, and then carefully r e i s s u e d at specified periods (usually seven years), it figures that “Mary Poppins” will be increasing its total rentals every so many years, as have the other Disney classics (see “Bambi” this year). Warners, h o w e v e r , has maintained a past policy of failing to update figures on older films after a few years which would indicate that “My Fair Lady” will go up to a certain figure and then stick there indefinitely.

‘Thunderball,’ $26,000,000 New top-earner of the James Bond features is “Thunderball,” with an amazing $26,000,000 in its first year of release. If UA keeps it, as it has the other Bond films, on the market semi-permanently, that total will continue to grow, as have “Doctor No,” “From Russia With Love” and “Goldfinger.” This year’s forthcoming battle of the Bonds — UA’s “You Only Live Twice” and Columbia’s “‘Casino Royale” — should provide some box office fireworks (and may well spell the start of a decline in pub- myriad carbons of the series).

Metro is pleased (and a great deal relieved) at the amazing staying power of “Doctor Zhivago,” which has gone past the $15,000,- 000 mark domestically and is now predicted to hit an eventual $30,- 000,000. When the film was first released, however, few predictions were made (even by Metro) that the David Lean treatment of Boris Pasternak’s novel would ring up the business it has, and is continuing to do.

Another demanding film, on which few predictions were made, but which proved both critically and business-wise a major triumph, was Warners’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” With a very big $10,300,000 taken in and most of the country’s theatres still to play, 1967 should boost this one up quite a bit, especially should it capture some Academy Award nominations, as seems indicated. Oddly enough, winning an Oscar usually breaks down considerable resistance on the part of that audience that usually deplores “very adult” films. The emphasis on the Elizabeth Taylor image didn’t hurt Metro’s reissues of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and “Butterfield 8,” upping both films considerably.

That’s Show Biz

It was a strange year at the nation’s boxoffices with some, very big. very expensive releases falling to make it; some .mediumweights turning- out to be heavyweights, and, most pleasant of all, some admittedly “little” pictures really catching the public’s fancy. Major hardticket efforts which made little impression on the nation included Fox’s “The Blue Max” (although the ultimate anticipated business is reported “undetermined”) and Warners” “Bat-‘ tie of the Bulge,'”‘ also “undetermined,” but not too hopeful. With only $4,500,000 taken in after a full year’s release, there’s not too much life left in this Cinerama effort. Fox’s’ “Agony And The Ecstasy,” also a long time out, failed to live up to expectations, barely outgrossing the reissue of Disney’s “Bambi.”

Despite a strong cast and heavy sell, UA’s “Cast A Giant Shadow” failed to make the all-time list, nor did the company’s “The Group.” “Khartoum” and “Fortune Cookie”; Metro’s “Lady L” and “The Loved One” (this Tony Richardson effort, a f t e r “Tom Jones,” was a real letdown); Columbia’s “The Chase,” “Heroes cf Telemark” and “Lost Command”; Fox’s “Flight of the Phoenix”; Paramount’s “Assault on a Queen”; or Universal’s “The Appaloosa.”

Even USSR ‘Pleased’ Most of the films which did rack up heavy business, however, considering their predicted outcome, emphasized comedy or suspense or a combination. Norman Jewison’s “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” gave UA one of its best bo; office pix and pleased everyone, including the Russians, who even “reviewed” it for VARIETY.

Disney’s second Dick Van Dyke, “Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN,” also proved successful while “That Darn Cat” combined laughs and thrills to give Disney his top film of the year. Dean Martin’s first in the Matt Helm series, “The Silencers,” brought in Columbia a cool $7,000,000 and triggered the continuance of the character. The really bright spots of the year were those several films with fair to medium budgets that did much more than was expected. Fox’s “Our Man Flint” made James Coburn a top boxoffice name and proved that James Bond’s dominance of the spy-spoof market is not absolute.

The Oscar attention given Metro’s “A Patch Of Blue” gave that modest item a really big boost, up into the $6,- 300,000 class, while Disney’s “Ugly Dachshund,” originally planned as a tv series, proved that really wellmade pilots could be converted to theatrical r e l e a s e with good results. AIP’s Cashable ‘Angels* American International hit the top business charts fairly steadily but the company’s runaway success was Roger Corman’s “Wild Angels,” which garnered $5,500,- 000 and set off what appears to be a stream of motorcycling-juvenile delinquent efforts.

More Film

  • 'Who Will Write Our History' Review:

    Film Review: 'Who Will Write Our History'

    The most famous diarist of the Holocaust, Anne Frank, began to write down the drama of her daily life with no ulterior motive (apart from her teenage ambition to write fiction). But in March 1944, the year before she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she heard a radio broadcast by a member of the [...]

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

    Film News Roundup: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer Sets Sony Pictures Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sets a studio record, Chris Meledandri and Glenn Close are honored, an art-house streaming service is unveiled, and “Cliffs of Freedom” gets a release. TRAILER STATS The first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer has set a record as the biggest digital launch in Sony Pictures history [...]

  • Frank Grillo Hell on the Border

    Frank Grillo to Star in the Thriller 'Hell on the Border'

    Frank Grillo is set to star in the action-thriller “Hell on the Border” with Wes Miller directing. Miller also penned the script with Curtis Nichouls, Henry Penzi, and Sasha Yelaun producing. Ron Perlman is also on board to co-star. Plot details are unknown at this time. Production is currently underway in Birmingham, Ala. Grillo has [...]

  • Lee Unkrich Variety Oscars Nominees Lunch

    'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich to Exit Pixar After 25 Years

    Lee Unkrich, who won Academy Awards for “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is departing Pixar Animation Studios after 25 years to spend more time with his family. Unkrich joined Pixar in 1994 after working as an assistant editor in television on “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” He served as editor on Pixar’s first feature, 1995’s “Toy [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed

    Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed Back Several Months

    Warner Bros. is pushing back the production start date of its third “Fantastic Beasts” movie several months from July to the late fall, a spokesperson said Friday. Actors have been notified about the change in dates. The untitled third “Fantastic Beasts” movie has not yet set a release date. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content