TotalNorth American box office was down 4% to $8.83bn in 2005, according tofigures released on Tuesday by Nielsen EDI - not quite the disastrousslump feared earlier in the year, but still the lowest overall domestic tallysince 2001.
Amongdistributors, Warner Bros, last year's number two domestically, earned braggingrights with a $1.38bn total gross and a 15.7% market share. The year's highestgrossing film, 20th Century Fox's StarWars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, helped its distributor take secondplace, with an aggregate gross of $1.36bn and a 15.4% market share.
Thefull year domestic box office figures were improved by some strong performancesover the holiday season, most notably from current chart toppers Buena Vista's TheChronicles of Narniaand Universal's King Kong.
Butthose and other holiday films could not fully compensate for a bad spring (withtakings down 13% on spring 2004) and disappointing summer (down 9%) at US andCanadian cinemas.
Revengeof the Sithwas far and away the year's top film, with a gross $380.3m. Yet it was also theyear's only $300m-plus performer - 2004, 2003 and 2002 each had threereleases which passed that mark.
Warner'sHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the year's top performer internationally, camein second domestically, with a $277.1m North American tally to date. It wasfollowed by Paramount's War of the Worlds, with $234.3m; and Buena Vista's TheChronicles of Narnia,with $225.7m after four weeks. New Line's Wedding Crashers rounded out the 2005top five with a $209.2m take.
Sonycame in third among distributors, just crossing the $1bn line and accountingfor 11.4% of the market. Sony's share was apparently boosted, however, by theinclusion of grosses from MGM films including $65.2m spring hit TheAmityville Horror(Sony led the consortium that completed its acquisition of MGM in April).
Universalranked fourth with its 11.3% share; Buena Vista took 10.5%; Paramount accountedfor 9.3%; and DreamWorks for 5.7%. Independent distributors, said Nielsen EDI,accounted for 20.1% of the box office total.