Hollywood eyes $4 billion summer box office record

LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:43pm EDT

Cast members Michael Cera (L) and Jonah Hill pose at the premiere of ''Superbad'' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California August 13, 2007. Hollywood movie studios on Monday eyed a $4 billion summer record at U.S. and Canadian box offices after this weekend's strong opening for teen sex comedy ''Superbad'' and other recent films that topped forecasts. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Cast members Michael Cera (L) and Jonah Hill pose at the premiere of ''Superbad'' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California August 13, 2007. Hollywood movie studios on Monday eyed a $4 billion summer record at U.S. and Canadian box offices after this weekend's strong opening for teen sex comedy ''Superbad'' and other recent films that topped forecasts.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood movie studios on Monday eyed a $4 billion summer record at U.S. and Canadian box offices after this weekend's strong opening for teen sex comedy "Superbad" and other recent films that topped forecasts.

"Superbad" opened at No. 1 with final domestic ticket sales of $33 million, up about 6 percent from Sunday's estimated $31.2 million.

Since late June, thriller "Transformers," animated comedy "The Simpsons Movie," musical "Hairspray" and animated "Ratatouille" all have beat expectations.

The summer season, which runs from early May through August and has two weeks remaining, is Hollywood's most lucrative period during which the studios can produce up to 40 percent of their annual revenues.

"We will certainly surpass $4 billion and probably be around $4.1 billion. I also think we will be at 600 million tickets sold, which we haven't seen in a few years," said Paul Dergarabedian, head of ticket sales tracker Media By Numbers.

So far, domestic ticket sales stand at around $3.83 billion, up some 10 percent from last year and 5 percent ahead of the pace for 2004's record summer of $3.95 billion.

Admissions are 559 million, up 5 percent from last year, according to Media By Numbers.

Internationally, box offices have been strong too. But overseas figures are not compiled as quickly for various films opening in different countries on different dates.

Summer 2007 hits included May's so-called "three-quels," "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Like "Transformers," they all grossed more than $300 million in domestic ticket sales.

Action adventures "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" performed roughly as expected, while comedy "Knocked Up" and supernatural thriller "1408" were among surprise successes.

The biggest financial loser likely will be "Evan Almighty." The comedy has taken in nearly $100 million at domestic box offices and slightly more than $31 million overseas. But it cost $175 million to make and tens of millions more to market.

Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan proved to be a summer misfire, starring in "Georgia Rule" and "I Know Who Killed Me" that both flopped at box offices. Other misses included "Nancy Drew," "Hostel: Part II" and "A Mighty Heart."

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