"Thank you, George Lucas, for saving our summer." I'm certain that's what they're saying at 20th Century Fox, the studio that released Lucas' third "Star Wars" prequel, "Revenge of the Sith."
There are still a couple of more weekends left in August, but "Sith" has already earned enough to make Fox the clear winner in the Summer Movie Wars. With $379 million in ticket receipts (in the United States), it's the biggest film of the year so far.
Fox also scored summer hits with "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" ($183 million) and "Fantastic Four" ($149 million), which means three of the studio's summer releases are currently on this year's Top 10. (And a fourth, the pre-summer Fox release "Robots" is sitting at No. 11.)
The yearly Top 10 will surely change, especially when you consider that there's another "Harry Potter" sequel and Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake coming later in the year. But in the meantime, here's a look at the winners and losers among the studios for summer 2005:
NEW LINE. Not content to simply coast on the success of its "Lord of the Rings" movies, the "mini-major" turned the R-rated comedy "Wedding Crashers" into a smash hit (with $164 million).
PARAMOUNT. "War of the Worlds" landed at No. 2 with $229 million, and Adam Sandler's remake of "The Longest Yard" scored with $157 million.
WARNER BROS. If not for Fox, "Batman Begins" ($201 million) and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" ($184 million) probably would have made Warner this summer's big winner. Adding to its embarrassment of riches, the studio's art-house division, Warner Independent Pictures, released the hit documentary "March of the Penguins" ($38 million).
SONY. With such big-budget busts as "Bewitched" ($62 million), "Stealth" ($30 million) and "xXx: State of the Union" ($26 million), is it any wonder the studio is already looking ahead to next summer's release of the third "Spider-Man" movie?
UNIVERSAL. The only studio without a single film in the year's Top 20 is Universal. Despite its pre-release awards buzz, the much-ballyhooed "Cinderella Man" could only scrape up $61 million.
DISNEY. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" ($51 million) did make its budget back. But "Herbie: Fully Loaded" ($64 million) stalled, and the Mouse House didn't even have an animated film to fall back on until "Valiant" opened last Friday.
DREAMWORKS. Even the surprise success of the animated comedy "Madagascar" ($190 million) couldn't take away the sting of "The Island's" failure (its $34 million grosses don't even cover its publicity costs).
STAR STRUCK? I should probably clarify an item in last week's column, which discussed my one-star review of "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo." A few readers misunderstood what I was saying and apparently believed I was doing away with one-to-four star reviews.
However, I'm not losing the stars entirely. I just no longer have the option of the zero-star, or "turkey," rating, which the "Deuce" sequel would have received.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:"He's always been known as a good actor, but you know, Hollywood is a very safe community, and it's like their attitude towards me: they think he is a good actor, but they are also a little bit worried because he likes to transform himself. He's more like Lon Chaney than he is a leading man." — Filmmaker and notorious oddball Tim Burton on his friend, actor and notorious oddball Johnny Depp.