Amblin’s double play

'Lost World,' 'Black' pack $200 mil 1-2 punch

“Men in Black” traveled past $200 million domestically on Thursday and continued to close the gap with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” as the top grosser of 1997.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, Amblin Entertainment — the producer of both the respective Sony and Universal releases — comes out a winner. In addition to becoming the first company to have two $200 million plus performers in a single summer season, it has the unprecedented distinction of being at the reins of a $100 million-plus B.O. performer for five consecutive years.

Since the summer of 1993 with “Jurassic Park,” Amblin’s seasonal blockbusters have consisted of “The Flintstones,” “Casper,” “Twister” and the two current pictures.

“The company has always placed a lot of emphasis on making pictures for the broadest possible audience that are entertaining and of high quality,” said Amblin marketing executive Marvin Levy. “We’re obviously very gratified by the public response. There’s no question that the box office is important, but I think it’s even more important to look at it as an affirmation of our creative process. We believe this will segue quite nicely into our DreamWorks lineup.”

DreamWorks’ first release, “The Peacemaker” directed by Mimi Leder and starring Nicole Kidman and George Clooney, is set to open Sept. 26, and the Steven Spielberg directed “Amistad” and the comedy “Mousehunt” are Christmas pictures.

While quite a number of production companies can cite multiple $100 million summer grossers in their repertoire, only two — Lucasfilm and Imagine — have done it in consecutive years. Lucasfilm has done it twice in 1980 and 1981 with “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and again in 1983 and 1984 with “Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Imagine’s twofer occurred in 1995 and 1996 thanks to “Apollo 13” and “The Nutty Professor.”

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