Box office passes $5 billion

The box office this week passed the $5-billion mark in record time, outstripping last year’s pace when the domestic gross stood at $4.71 billion at this time. Analysts said that if expectations for such holiday releases as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Fellowship of the Ring and Monsters Inc.are realized, the box-office should close the year well past $8 billion, versus last year’s total of $7.7 billion. The money-making leader, with $621.3 million, is Universal, thanks to The Mummy Returns, Jurassic Park III, The Fast and the Furious and the current American Pie 2. In reporting on the box office tally, Britain’s Screen Daily, the Internet offshoot of the weekly trade magazine Screen International, commented: “The real story of the summer is how the opening-is-everything mentality which has dominated Hollywood studio thinking for some years became such a merciless reality.”