STUDIO SPOTLIGHT More than doubling its 1999 take, DreamWorks popped open the champagne after a record year which saw $769.5M in ticket sales roll in placing the young studio fifth among its peers despite releasing only nine films. The summer season carried the company with a string of hits, however in today's risk-averse environment, DreamWorks had to share worldwide fortunes on most of the big winners with other companies. Gladiator opened the summer commanding $186.6M and gave the studio an Oscar-worthy title. Harrison Ford became the first actor to star in $100M blockbusters in each of the last four decades with the suspense thriller What Lies Beneath which grossed $155.4M. Overseas partners Universal and Fox, respectively, also found success with these pictures internationally. Also making for a rosy summer were the claymation feature Chicken Run ($106.8M), the college comedy Road Trip ($68.5M), and even Woody Allen's inexpensive Small Time Crooks ($17.1M).
But outside of summer was a different story. The spring witnessed a decent $50.9M for The Road to El Dorado, but the animated film cost a fortune and should have done better. In September, DreamWorks had American Beauty-like buzz for Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, but by expanding too quickly into markets that were not excited about the film yet, the studio saw grosses and averages weaken leaving it with $32M, or roughly half its bloated $60M budget. Fall woes continued with the political drama The Contender which attracted good reviews but weak business, and Robert Redford's The Legend of Bagger Vance which stumbled with a disappointing $31M.