STUDIO SPOTLIGHT Once again the Sony Pictures factory churned out the most movies during the year with 21 wide releases in 1999. Unfortunately most of the films stumbled at the box office leaving the studio with just one major hit. Adam Sandler's summer comedy Big Daddy cost about $32M to produce but grossed a beefy $163.5M domestically helping to make up for over a dozen flops. For the year, Sony took in $637M which was down 15% from 1998.
Early in the year, Stepmom attracted solid sales which more than made up for stinkers like Gloria, starring Sharon Stone, and the high school comedy Jawbreaker which grossed $4.1M and $3M respectively. The Nicolas Cage thriller 8MM debuted at number one but vanished quickly finishing with a disappointing $36.4M. But teens made Cruel Intentions into a modest hit with $38.2M in torn ticket stubs. The highly acclaimed Go won raves from critics but managed just $16.8M.
More forgettable films followed until Big Daddy seized the top spot from Disney's Tarzan with its massive $41.5M bow. Adam Sandler proved that he was the king of comedy by matching the success of 1998's The Waterboy which some thought was just a fluke. The rest of the summer slate for Sony failed to make any major dents. They included Arlington Road ($24.4M), Muppets From Space ($16.3M), Dick ($6.2M), and the Universal Soldier sequel ($10.4M).
Comedy once again brought Sony to the top as Martin Lawrence's Blue Streak debuted at number one and brought in $67.6M by year's end. But starpower failed to help Robin Williams in Jakob the Liar or Harrison Ford in Random Hearts as those films coughed up respective tallies of $5M and $31M. But all was not lost as the holiday season brought a talking mouse that the nation embraced as the expensive family film Stuart Little hit it big and is well on its way to crossing the $100M mark and giving Sony a new franchise for a new decade.
For a studio that releases a new film about every other week, Sony Pictures could have used some more hits. Older stars like Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Sharon Stone, and Nicolas Cage failed to connect with audiences while younger talent like Adam Sandler and Martin Lawrence brought in the bread and butter. But the star formula will need to work in 2000 as Sony has its hopes pegged to Kevin Costner's 28 Days, Mel Gibson's The Patriot, and Charlie's Angels starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu.