Executive Summary

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc., an arm of Walt Disney Co., once again tops the list of motion picture distribution companies for 1999, narrowly edging out Warner Bros. Domestic Theatrical Distribution.

Distribution companies are ranked by their total box-office receipts for the period of Jan. 1, 1999 through Dec. 30, 1999. Buena Vista distributed 29 films in 1999 that grossed a combined $1.2 billion, a market share of 16.9 percent.

Warner Bros., coming off a disappointing year in 1998, jumped to the No. 2 position on the strength of such releases as "The Matrix" and "Analyze This," with box-office receipts totaling more than $1 billion and a market share of 14.2 percent. This marks the second year running that two distributors have had more than $1 billion in ticket sales in the same year (in 1998 it was Buena Vista and Paramount).

Overall, American moviegoers spent upwards of $7.3 billion at the box office nationwide in 1999, up 5.8 percent from 1998. A record 19 movies that were released in 1999 grossed more than $100 million, four more than the previous year.

The Pacesetter

WALT DISNEY CO.

In its second consecutive year as the No. 1 company on the list, Walt Disney Co. distribution arm Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc. had three of the year's 10 highest-grossing releases.

Its top money maker for 1999 was "The Sixth Sense," which after taking in $278 million was the second highest-grossing film of the year (behind "Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace"). Buena Vista's two other films in the top 10 were both animated features: "Toy Story 2," the No. 3 film of 1999 after grossing $234 million, and "Tarzan," No. 6 after bringing in $171 million.

In 1999, Buena Vista released 29 films that took in $1.2 billion, a 9 percent increase over 1998 with the same number of films released. It was a strong finish to a year that started off very slowly for Disney, with early releases like "Mighty Joe Young" and "A Civil Action" performing moderately well while such films as "My Favorite Martian" and "The Other Sister" tanked. It wasn't until the summer release of "The Sixth Sense" and "Tarzan" that the company's box-office receipts took off. After the November release of "Toy Story 2," Buena Vista became the first distributor in history with two films passing the $200 million mark in the same year.

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