With three summer box office weekends still to come, UniversalPictures announced yesterday it had passed its all-time season record with$667.8m in domestic ticket sales.
The new milestone includes business up to Aug 13 and overtakes theprevious mark of $665.9m set in 2001. So far this year the studio has grossed$693.1m.
The record was fuelled chiefly by three consecutive $50m-plusopenings for Bruce Almighty, 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Hulk.
Bruce Almighty opened on $85.7m on Memorial Day for the highest ever non-sequelcomedy opening and has gone on to gross $239.5m to date.
Street racing sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious opened on $50.5m in early June and hasgrossed $126m, while The Hulk set a June record when it opened on $62m and has gone to take adisappointing $130.9m.
The unprecedented trio of trio of openings was followed two weeksago by a fourth number one bow from the comedy American Wedding, which opened on $33.4m and is currentlyon $71.1m.
Of the two other films released this summer the acclaimed drama Seabiscuit has grossed $73.8m to date while theworldwide comedy hit Johnny English has amassed only $26.5m.
"This remarkable achievement could not have happened without thecompletely unified, perfectly orchestrated efforts of our incredibly passionateand tenacious production, marketing and distribution teams," Nikki Rocco, thestudio's president of distribution, said in a statement.
Universal executives are fond of stressing the importance of theiryear-round slate and with that in mind the immediate future looks bright forthe studio.
Its autumn season kicks off with the Sept 26 release of thecomedy-adventure The Rundown (formerly Helldorado), starring The Rock and Seann William Scott.
Later releasesinclude Intolerable Cruelty, a romantic comedy by the Coen Brothers starring George Clooneyand Catherine Zeta-Jones; Dr Seuss' The Cat In The Hat starring Mike Myers; Love Actually, the romantic comedy starring anall-star British ensemble; and the live action version of Peter Pan starring Jason Isaacs and JeremySumpter.