STUDIO SPOTLIGHT Although Buena Vista had fewer $100M blockbusters in 1999 than in recent years, the ones that did cross the noted level surged to stratospheric heights. For the fifth time in six years, the Mouse House led all studios in market share at the box office grossing $1.241 billion led by the surprise smash The Sixth Sense plus the animated firepower of Toy Story 2 and Tarzan. The three films together accounted for only half of the pot meaning the Disney folks had revenue coming from many other channels too. Buena Vista had 18 wide releases and saw its annual gross improve 12% over 1998.
Of course the story of the year for the studio was the monster hit that nobody expected. The Sixth Sense opened impressively in August with $26.7M but its staying power was the strongest since Titanic. The supernatural thriller held onto the number one spot for five weeks (longer than any other film in 1999) and spent 15 weeks in the top ten. With $276M and counting, The Sixth Sense ranks as the 12th biggest domestic blockbuster of all time and is zooming towards the $500M barrier in worldwide sales. On the animation front, Disney sizzled during the summer with Tarzan's $170M and rang in the holidays with Toy Story 2 which has brought in over $210M to date.
Other films that worked for Buena Vista included Inspector Gadget ($97M), A Civil Action ($56.7M), and the low-cost comedies Deuce Bigalow ($47M to date) and Ten Things I Hate About You ($38.2M). Problem spots arose with Instinct ($34.1M), Summer of Sam ($19.3M), The Thirteenth Warrior ($32.7M), Mumford ($4.6M), and Mystery, Alaska ($8.9M). Critical hits Rushmore ($17.1M) and The Insider ($26M) could not find large audiences while the costly Bicentennial Man brought in only moderate sales during the holiday season.
Overseas, Buena Vista International sizzled with a portfolio of hits which included its own homegrown fare, plus split-rights pictures like Runaway Bride, End of Days, and Payback. BVI saw its annual take rise 12% to $1.32 billion putting total worldwide box office at a staggering $2.56 billion worldwide in 1999 for the Disney empire.
Hoping to retain its crown in this new decade, the Mouse House is betting on hefty returns for its summer toon Dinosaur, the sci-fi adventure Mission to Mars, and the holiday sequel 102 Dalmatians with Glenn Close.