A look at how the movie studios compare -- Buena Vista and Paramount lead the list for 1998

By EW Staff
Updated February 05, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
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1 Buena Vista
1998 Market Share 16%
The Year In Review Yes, it was too long, expensive, and noisy; the animal-crackers love scene between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler was unbearable; and we never want to hear that Aerosmith song again. But give Disney credit: Armageddon‘s $201 million domestic take capped a year that allowed the studio to tie its ’96 record of five $100 million-plus grossers, including A Bug’s Life, Mulan, Enemy of the State, and The Waterboy. That doubtless took the sting out of the Mouse House’s failed shots at prestige (the sticky Simon Birch and the pricey Beloved).
New Year’s Resolution To stay on top — which could be tough, given Disney’s lean ’99 slate of 18 releases (down from 22).
High Hopes Toy Story 2 was planned as a video release until everybody came to their senses; now it’s next Thanksgiving’s main attraction. Also notable on the kid-friendly schedule: an animated Tarzan and an attempt at a new live-action franchise, Inspector Gadget.
Trouble Spots My Favorite Martian and the Antonio Banderas blood-fest The 13th Warrior have been gathering dust — and bad buzz — for an awfully long time.

2 Paramount
1998 Market Share 15.8%
The Year In Review The studio that spent the first half of ’98 rolling in Titanic bounty proved there’s life after lifeboats with a lineup that included half shares of DreamWorks’ Deep Impact and Saving Private Ryan, a successful foray into cheap animation with The Rugrats Movie, and a gamble that paid off creatively and financially in The Truman Show. But when it was bad (Hard Rain), it was very, very bad (Snake Eyes), and its durable Star Trek franchise is beginning to rust.
New Year’s Resolution To get that other valuable franchise, Mission: Impossible 2, into theaters by Christmas.
High Hopes Since moviegoers can see Fox’s Star Wars prequel only so many times, Paramount will aim to woo summer audiences with the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts comedy Runaway Bride, the John Travolta thriller The General’s Daughter, Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci in Tim Burton’s cool-sounding Sleepy Hollow, and the egregiously titled Comedy Central spin-off South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
Trouble Spots The dark action drama Payback went back for reshoots after star Mel Gibson and the studio clashed with director Brian Helgeland — never an auspicious sign.

3 Warner Bros.
1998 Market Share 10.9%
The Year In Review The studio had solid performances from City of Angels and A Perfect Murder, a good worldwide return from the still overpriced Lethal Weapon 4, and a holiday hit with You’ve Got Mail. But the year was marred by expensive duds (Soldier, Sphere, The Avengers, Jack Frost), a resounding failure to crack the animation market (Quest for Camelot), and a nagging sense that releases requiring delicate handling (The Butcher Boy, Without Limits) don’t get it. (Why not start a classics division like every other studio?)
New Year’s Resolution To get out of the dumb-expensive-action biz and into the good-cheap-action biz.
High Hopes Wild Wild West reunites the proven combination of Will Smith and the Fourth of July weekend; the studio’s also got Tom Hanks in an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Tom and Nicole (finally) in Eyes Wide Shut, and for the first time in years, a handful of films (Three to Tango, Gossip, The Chill Factor) with twentysomething appeal.
Trouble Spots The mobster-sees-a-shrink comedy Analyze This had its whole concept trumped by HBO’s The Sopranos; some of the personnel in 1999’s action films (Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, Renny Harlin directing Deep Blue Sea) have uninspiring recent track records.

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