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The Race to the Box Office Finish: Sony Vs. Disney?

A few weeks ago Sony beat the $3 billion dollar box office mark. It was pushed over the edge by the ongoing success of Casino Royale, and pushed further now by Pursuit of Happyness. Sony told me they are at about $3.26 billion worldwide as I write this and expect to top $3.3 billion worldwide by Monday. That breaks down to $1.68 billion for domestic sales and $1.62 billion in international receipts.

And Friday Disney announces it's neck and neck with Sony, hitting $3.26 billion in international box office. So Disney is also doing some boasting, particularly about the phenomenal success of its Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DVD and its CD hits High School Musical and Rascal Flatts?. [If you have teenagers you'd have heard of them.]

So after all that hubbub about Sony topping the box office this year is it possible that Disney is tied? The folks at Disney tell me that they aren't actually ahead of Sony- they're just doing their year-end bragging. But it does raise the question if Mel Gibson's Apocalypto has given the studio a last-minute box office push.

But the real story, and a sign of Hollywood's stupidity, is how TOP LINE OBSESSED everyone is. Who cares what your revenues are if margins are nil? Sure, Sony and Disney both made a lot of money this year -- but people should care more about how much Disney spent-- not just on the films -- but in marketing-- to generate that kind of box office.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.