Bourne-again Uni shifts into gear


Universal Pictures achieved its second-place ranking in the market-share race the hard way. The studio, under the leadership of chairman Marc Shmuger and co-chairman David Linde, didn't field any of the season's $300 million-grossing behemoths. But it scored solid results with a trio of veritable brand names: fictional spy Jason Bourne, comedy cleanup hitter Adam Sandler and Hollywood's new king of raunch, producer-director Judd Apatow.

Paul Greengrass' propulsively paced "The Bourne Ultimatum," starring Matt Damon, was one of those rare things this summer — with $202.8 million in its domestic account, it was a threequel that managed to outgross its two predecessors. While Sandler's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" waded into the culturally contentious issue of gay marriage, its mainstream instincts won over audiences. Having grossed $116.6 million, it's the eighth Sandler comedy to crest $100 million.

Apatow's "Knocked Up" was the summer's long-distance runner. The comedy about an unplanned pregnancy, starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen, never commanded the top spot at the boxoffice, but with minimal declines, it held on from week to week until it grossed $148.2 million.

The studio's major misstep was attempting to spin off the R-rated 2003 hit "Bruce Almighty" into the PG-13 sequel "Evan Almighty," starring Steve Carell. Try as it might, the expensive, $175 million movie stalled just short of the $100 million mark.