For better or for worse, the record-breaking run at the summer box office has dramatically raised the bar for just how high Hollywood can fly.
For the first time ever, four summer films have broken the $300 million barrier at the domestic box office: "Spider-Man 3" ($336.4 million), "Shrek the Third" ($321 million), "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
" ($307.6 million) and "Transformers" ($303.7 million), according to Rentrak.
Including these four biggies, a total of 13 summer titles have shot past the $100 million mark in a surprise surge.
Boom means summer 2007 is turning out to be the best on the books, running 10% ahead of 2006 and 6% ahead of 2004, the previous record-holder, according to Nielsen EDI. The total number of summer admissions (May 4-Aug. 12) is 526.5 million, up 6% over the same frame last summer.
All of this is helping to boost year-to-date numbers at the box office, with 2007 running 7% over 2006 and 6% over 2004, the previous record-holder.
What's more, the bonanza got off to a late start, leaving studio execs looking at late July and August with new gusto.
The summer has also been singular on the foreign front as four films topped the $400 million barrier -- the third "Pirates" pic with $650 million, "Spider-Man 3" and "Order of the Phoenix" with $550 million each and "Shrek the Third" with $412 million. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
" is the fourth highest grosser of all time.
Only 23 films had previously reached the $400 million milestone previously, including four from 2006: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
," "The Da Vinci Code," "Ice Age: The Meltdown" and "Casino Royale." The latter two didn't open in the summer, however.