STUDIO SPOTLIGHT The Force propelled Twentieth Century Fox to fifth place for the year as George Lucas' highly anticipated prequel Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace became one of the highest-grossing motion pictures in history. But aside from the story of Anakin and Jar Jar, the year was mostly flat for Fox. Total annual box office came to $794M, up 10% from 1998, but Episode I accounted for over half of that amount.

For the first few months of the year, Fox suffered one strikeout after another. In the wake of Saving Private Ryan, moviegoers saw little need to support The Thin Red Line which ended up with a $36.4M gross. More bad news came from Simply Irresistible ($4.4M), Office Space ($10.8M), Wing Commander ($11.6M), Ravenous ($2M), and Pushing Tin ($8.4M). But Drew Barrymore delivered a spring hit with Never Been Kissed which smooched up $55.5M. That was followed by Entrapment which reached $87.7M domestically and over $200M worldwide giving Fox some badly needed strength.

After years of anticipation, fans finally had the chance to see Star Wars Episode I which bowed with a mammoth $105.7M opening over five days. The prequel not only hoarded tons of cash to itself, but it also ignited the summer box office boosting overall attendance which in turn helped other films reach massive heights all season long. Around the world, The Phantom Menace has taken in over $922M making it the second highest-grossing box office smash of all time after Titanic. Unfortunately for Fox, Lucasfilm owns the megablockbuster and just paid a distribution fee to the studio for its services.

The rest of the year for Fox was full of disappointments. Expensive star vehicles like Fight Club and Anna and the King posted underwhelming results. The $65M Brad Pitt pic punched up $36M while Jodie Foster's $75M+ tale is on course for a $40M final. Other titles included Brokedown Palace ($10.1M), Drive Me Crazy ($17.8M), Light It Up ($6M), and Anywhere But Here ($18M).

Though the year 2000 has no Jedi sagas on the calendar, Fox does boast an arsenal of promising weapons including Me, Myself, and Irene which reunites Jim Carrey with the Farrelly brothers, Robert Zemeckis' Castaway starring Tom Hanks, the animated film Titan AE, The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio, and The X Men due this summer.