A matter of performance over prestige

Overview: What Fox lacked in prestige in 2004, it made up for in box office. Studio co-chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos presided over their second record-breaking year of revenue, and their slate of populist tentpoles and targeted-audience pics — 13 in all — garnered the studio a strong fifth-place finish, with $884.2 million, 10% of market share.

Winners and losers: Actioners like “Day After Tomorrow” ($186 million), “I, Robot” ($144 million) and “Alien vs. Predator” ($80 million) racked up robust domestic grosses, as did comedies “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story” ($114 million) and Christmas 2003 spillover “Cheaper by the Dozen” ($138 million). Misfires included the neither-fish-nor-fowl marketing mess “Taxi” ($36 million) and Ray Romano laffer “Welcome to Mooseport.”

Award prospects: Opportunities for Fox look slim outside the tech category, where f/x-heavy fare like “Day After Tomorrow” and “I, Robot” could make inroads. Fox Searchlight should uphold the studio’s honor in the glamour categories, with Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” and William Condon’s “Kinsey” likely to get a raft of Oscar noms for their scripts and perfs, and maybe even picture noms.

Popular on Variety

The year ahead: The Crusades-era epic “Kingdom of Heaven” has positive buzz thanks to the pairing of Ridley Scott and the demo desirable Orlando Bloom. Forceful B.O. is expected for George Lucas’ highly anticipated “Star Wars: Episode III,” and the new Marvel Comics franchise “Fantastic Four” may deliver super-hero-size numbers. Also notable is CGI pic “Robots,” the sophomore effort from Blue Sky, the animation house behind Fox’s animation hit “Ice Age.”