STUDIO SPOTLIGHT Despite Titanic not being in the mix, Paramount Pictures still had a very healthy year at the box office. 1999 saw some big blockbusters, plenty of medium-sized profitable hits, and just a few disappointments. The studio claimed three $100M+ smashes and a couple of pics in the $80-100M range as well. Known as the leaders of co-financing, Paramount shared the rewards on hits like Runaway Bride but also reduced its liability on flops like Bringing Out the Dead. For the year, the studio collected $847M which was off an understandable 19% from 1998's billion-dollar-year which was fueled by a certain iceberg film's staying power.
The year began with the one-two punch of teen drama Varsity Blues and the Mel Gibson actioner Payback which together topped the box office during four of the first eight weeks of the year. The films went on to gross $52.9M and $81.5M respectively. Less success was met by The Out-of-Towners ($28.5M) and 200 Cigarettes ($6.9M). Meanwhile, Paramount tried to nurture a pair of critical favorites but saw modest grosses as A Simple Plan and Election brought in only $16.3M and $14.9M.
The summer brought the John Travolta crime thriller The General's Daughter which bagged $102.7M and the daring South Park feature which cursed up a healthy $52M - not bad for an R-rated cartoon. The Wood starring Taye Diggs grossed a solid $25.1M, or more than four times its production budget. Paramount's biggest hit of the year came in the middle of summer when Julia Roberts and Richard Gere joined forces to take on all the late summer suspense thrillers with Runaway Bride. Like many of Paramount's releases, Bride was jointly produced with Buena Vista and grossed $152M domestically and a ravishing $282M worldwide and counting.
But the hit parade didn't stop there. Paramount had the fall's biggest success in Double Jeopardy which surprised many with three weeks at number one and $114M to date. Girlpower also helped the Molly Shannon comedy Superstar become a modest success with a $30M take. However, the studio fell flat on its face with Bringing Out the Dead which tanked bringing in just $16.5M. Sleepy Hollow chopped up some impressive numbers grossing $93M thus far while The Talented Mr. Ripley has fared well over the holidays.
In 2000, Paramount is planning on more franchise pictures with the Memorial Day weekend debut of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible 2 plus a planned Rugrats sequel.