The Majors: MGM

Top pix: 'Blonde,' 'Cody'

MGM’s mantra of generating bigger profits out of lower-budgeted pics (averaging below $30 million) that target specific auds finally paid off for the Lion in 2003.

“Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” “Agent Cody Banks,” “Good Boy!” and “Uptown Girls” proved hits. “Blonde” was the studio’s biggest player at the domestic B.O., with $89 million.

“Out of Time,” “Bulletproof Monk” and “A Guy Thing” misfired, but “this year’s slate will be the most profitable in MGM’s seven-year history as a public company,” says Chris McGurk, vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM. “This was the first full year that all the films on the slate represented the strategy we wanted to put into place.”

Early in the year, indie arm UA took home the docu Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine,” and later saw “Jeepers Creepers 2” and “Pieces of April” break out, although “Together,” “Assassination Tango,” “City of Ghosts” and “Dark Blue” failed to catch on.

For 2004, MGM will rely on the familiar with “Agent Cody Banks 2”; “Be Cool,” a sequel to “Get Shorty”; and “Barbershop 2,” and distaff spinoff “Beauty Shop.” Also on the slate are urban laffer “Soul Plane,” “Sleepover,” “Wicker Park,” Cole Porter musical “De Lovely” and a remake of “Walking Tall.”

Tentpoles “The Pink Panther” and Paul Walker actioner “Into the Blue” could be ready for the end of 2004.

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