|Top 30 Films of the Summer 1997 Box Office|
|(estimated final grosses in millions)|
|#||Title||Gross||1st Wk %||Per Scrn||Distributor|
|1||Men in Black||$ 250.0||$ 51.1||20.43||$ 78,616||Sony|
|2||The Lost World||230.0||92.7||40.32||64,236||Universal|
|3||Air Force One||174.0||37.1||21.34||58,370||Sony|
|4||My Best Friend's Wedding||125.0||21.7||17.34||55,979||Sony|
|6||Batman & Robin||107.3||42.9||39.96||36,474||Warner Bros.|
|7||George of the Jungle||103.0||16.1||15.65||38,991||Buena Vista|
|9||Con Air||101.1||24.1||23.87||34,373||Buena Vista|
|11||Conspiracy Theory||78.0||19.3||24.76||27,798||Warner Bros.|
|12||The Fifth Element||63.6||17.0||26.78||25,420||Sony|
|14||Speed 2 : Cruise Control||48.1||16.2||33.59||18,315||Fox|
|15||G.I. Jane||48.0||11.1||23.11||23,494||Buena Vista|
|17||Nothing to Lose||45.0||11.6||25.82||23,835||Buena Vista|
|18||Money Talks||41.0||10.7||25.99||20,167||New Line|
|19||Addicted To Love||34.7||11.4||33.01||17,156||Warner Bros.|
|22||Fathers' Day||28.7||8.8||30.62||11,432||Warner Bros.|
|23||Out to Sea||28.0||5.9||21.03||16,118||Fox|
|25||Air Bud||24.5||4.9||19.91||13,200||Buena Vista|
|27||Gone Fishin'||19.8||5.8||29.21||10,697||Buena Vista|
|28||How To Be A Player||14.0||4.2||30.05||18,519||Gramercy|
|29||Trial and Error||13.6||4.9||36.13||5,906||New Line|
|30||Leave It to Beaver||11.0||3.3||29.57||5,836||Universal|
SUMMER once again was filled with big-budgeted, effects-laden, disposable films that fought for ticket dollars to justify their increasing costs. After a promising start in May, the box office cooled down in the all-important month of June as would-be blockbusters failed to reach expectations. Luckily, July and August were much stronger than usual, due in part to a string of star-driven hits rarely seen in late summer, and allowed the Summer 1997 season to finish with a record $2.246B. But don't let that statistic fool you. Admissions were down this summer for the third year in a row meaning that higher ticket prices caused the record dollar amount. Ten films crossed or will cross the $100M mark - one more than last summer. Sony was the clear winner among distributors claiming three of the four highest-grossing films of the season.
Sony's The Fifth Element kicked off the season on May 9th with a strong opening and finished with $63.6M. Although many have labeled it a summer loser, it actually did well for Sony since Element is a French-financed film and the studio only paid for North American distribution rights and not the entire budget. The next summer story was The Lost World which was by far the frontrunner when the season started. It broke nearly every record in the book when it launched over Memorial Day weekend and in anticipation of dinofever, all the other studios decided not to compete by scheduling their event films weeks after the dinosequel's debut. That was a bad decision since World depreciated quickly and another big picture could have survived against it.
Con Air opened with a bang knocking Spielberg's dinosaurs out of the number one spot after just two weeks and went on to make over $100M. The other big action offering Speed 2 opened weaker than Fox had hoped for and sank instantly. Warner Bros. unleashed Batman & Robin next which was supposed to be the next big blockbuster of the summer but it also sputtered and nosedived becoming by far the lowest-grossing, not to mention most expensive, of the franchise. Opening day and date with the dynamic duo was My Best Friend's Wedding which put Julia Roberts back in the hot seat in Hollywood by doing what nobody would have predicted - outgrossing the Batflick. Next came Face/Off, which showed much stamina and was a crowd-pleaser, and Hercules which could have used more muscle and put an end to a dismal June.
The month of July brought what would become the highest-grossing picture of the year, Men in Black. After a month of disappointing grosses by sequels and the usual summer fare, July brought better-than-expected performances by MIB, Contact, George of the Jungle, and Air Force One. August continued the summer's winning ways with the surprisingly explosive opening of Spawn, which was followed by A-list stars headlining movies like Conspiracy Theory, Cop Land, and G.I. Jane.
As always, there were many surprises. Who would have guessed that the comedy dream team of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal would have been beaten at the ticket counter by comedy teams like Ryan/Broderick, Lawrence/Robbins, and most surprisingly Tucker/Sheen. Plus Brendan Fraser can boast about how his George of the Jungle destroyed Stallone, Gibson, Moore, Willis, Bullock, and Williams at the box office. Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts put their careers back on track after not scoring a blockbuster in a few years. John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Will Smith, and Jodie Foster continued their winning ways and will no doubt demand higher salaries.
Although Sony is rejoicing with its huge margin of victory, Disney is laughing all the way to the bank as well. It had only three titles in the top ten (none in the top five) but has international rights to Face/Off and Air Force One which means it will distribute five of the top ten summer films in overseas markets. Disney had seven releases finish in the top thirty, leading all distributors, while Warners claimed five. In market share, Sony led with 26.4% followed by Disney (19%), Warners (15.5%), Universal (12.3%), and Paramount (8.9%).
Last Updated : October 19, 1997
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