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$1.82 bil and record change

With $ 1.82 billion in the till as of Aug. 19, summer box office earnings breezed past the summer of 1989 to set a new revenue record for the season.

The remaining fortnight leading up to Labor Day should easily take revenues for the period beyond $ 2 billion. If that pace is maintained, attendance figures would translate to at least 434,782,600 admissions.

Ticket sales during the 1989 summer are estimated at 445,264,500, or approximately 2.5% better than the current projected 1993 head count. But the margin between the two years could easily close during the next two weeks.

Daily Variety has revised downward its previous reports of summer 1989 box office to reflect advances in calculation methodology. Daily Variety’s previous numbers included such factors as “phantom” playdates — an approximation of revenues in second-run situations and other venues such as military bases and retro houses. That so-called “sludge” factor was a carryoverMDSD from the pre-computer era, when studio collections were difficult to appraise even for the distributor.

But new technologies have eliminated the need for phantom figures.

Tracking second and subrun dates has also been made less nettlesome by the virtual elimination of a theatrical window once titles are released on videotape and to pay-cable outlets.

After consultation with major studio and independent sources, Daily Variety has readjusted previously published figures that had inflated available revenue data with an added 20% sludge factor. In this instance, earlier reporting of a $ 2.03 billion summer 1989 box office has, with industry assistance, been reappraised to more properly reflect revenues of $ 1.77 billion.

On paper, every summer season is accompanied with the anticipation of bounteous grosses. But 1993’s crop of films, with the exception of Columbia’s “Last Action Hero,” lived up to or exceeded box office expectations.

Fueled by the ongoing strength of “Jurassic Park,” Universal is the current and almost certain market share leader for the summer period. Presently commanding 18.6% of the field from revenues of $ 343.6 million, Universal has thus far relied almost exclusively on the power of the Steven Spielberg dino-mo. The company finished third a year earlier during peak vacation time and was fifth during the previous record period of1989.

Warner Bros., first in the marketplace last year and in 1989, is the present second-place finisher, with $ 287.8 million and 15.8% of the pie. Buena Vista, ranked third with $ 244.2 million and 13.4%, is down a notch from last year and the 1989 period.

Most improved for the period is TriStar, with 11.2% of the market from revenues of $ 204.3 million, which pushes it into fifth. A year ago it finished fifth with a 4.5% share; it mustered 3.1% to rank eighth in 1989. Conversely, Orion, with about .1% in 1993, generated revenues that translated to 1.7% for the 1989 season.

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