STUDIO SPOTLIGHT Still a believer in the philosophy that big stars bring big bucks, Warner Brothers saw a small improvement in its performance over 1997 and finished the year in third place with over 11% of the market. Its slate of 20 new pictures still contained its fair share of costly duds but was balanced by some genuine hits. Four of its films opened at number one at the box office.

Like in the previous year, 1998 had its share of expensive star-driven films that imploded when released in theaters. Sphere ($37M), The Avengers ($23.4M), Soldier ($14.6M), and the studio's first fully-animated feature Quest For Camelot ($22.7M) carried massive price tags, but found few interested moviegoers. However, Warners did find some success in City of Angels ($78.7M), Lethal Weapon 4 ($129.8M), and the holiday hit You've Got Mail ($77M in 17 days). Angels rode the romance wave in the spring, Weapon 4 came close to the grosses of the previous installments, and Mail is well on its way to blockbuster status. Despite Weapon 4's enormous production cost and gross profit participants, the action hit still has earned over $270M worldwide and has become a home video smash for Warners.

Warners also saw some solid grosses for A Perfect Murder ($67.6M), U.S. Marshals ($57.4M), The Negotiator ($44.7M), and Practical Magic ($47M). Less successful pictures in 1998 included Major League 3 ($3.6M), Tarzan and the Lost City ($2.2M), Almost Heroes ($6.2M), Wrongfully Accused ($9.6M), Why Do Fools Fall In Love? ($12.2M), The Wizard of Oz reissue ($15M), Home Fries ($10.1M), and Jack Frost ($31M to date).