Disney rules summer box office

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, the summer movie season is officially over. So who were the winners and losers at this year's box office?

This summer, Disney ruled the waves and the road while Warner Brothers took a bath. Only a year ago their roles were reversed with Warner Brothers king of the summer box office, thanks to "Batman Begins" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and Disney launching bombs like "Dark Water," and "Valiant."

In Hollywood fortunes can change as quickly as the season. Tom Cruise, for instance, was last summer's hero after "War of the Worlds." This summer he's Paramount's pariah after "Mission Impossible III."

Gitesh Pandya, of boxofficeguru.com, notes, "Mission Impossible III should have made more money but was a disappointment at the box office, and it proves that he has to pick the right project and be a little more sane when it comes to his promotions."

Thanks to the variety of films this summer, the box office will come in well ahead of last summer's dismal results.

But behind the scenes there are a wave of job cuts at Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers, as all the studios grapple with slowing DVD sales and spiraling costs.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook says, "It's a tough business and you want to run it like a business but at the same time you want creativity to flourish. So you've got the ying and the yang of all this that I think we're all fighting with."

The studios may have dodged the summer slump, but they may soon have a rough holiday season – with no "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings," or "Chronicles of Narnia" to maintain the positive momentum at the box office.


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