Topping the summer box office has become habit-forming at Warner Bros. Hollywood's summer ends Labor Day, but already it's clear that Warners again will top distributor market-share rankings with $957 million in domestic grosses since the season began May 1, according to Nielsen EDI.
That's down from the studio's "Dark Knight"-fueled $1 billion tally last summer. Still, Warners sits well ahead of the domestic distribution pack year-to-date and is tracking 3 percent ahead of its industry-record haul from a year ago with $1.47 billion and counting.
The studio's seasonal performance has yielded an industry-best market share of 23 percent. Paramount copped the season's silver medal with $874 million so far and a 21 percent share; Disney is third with $604 million and 15 percent.
All told, when receipts are calculated through Labor Day, summer box office will finish north of summer 2007's record $4.16 billion. But with 3D premiums driving a big rise in average ticket prices, there's scant chance of beating summer 2004's admissions record of 642 million tickets sold after accounting for inflation.
Meanwhile, Warners brass say the studio's best is yet to come.
"We have 10 films to release by the end of the year, so it looks to me that we're going to break our record again," Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman says. "But we'll have to take it one picture at a time."