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Movies' Banner Year

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The movie industry is putting the wraps on its second straight record-breaking year. Ticket sales in the U.S. totaled $7.5 billion, up from $6.95 billion in ’98. (Taking inflation into account, the movie business in 1999 fell well below Hollywood’s golden years in the 1930s and ’40s, but there was no Internet or TV then. Still, 1999 sales of roughly 1.5 billion tickets were the highest in 40 years.) Observers are crediting the wide variety of movies released this year. The ’99 champs, with grosses through Dec. 19, are:

1. “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” $429.9 million.
2. “The Sixth Sense,” $275.2 million.
3. “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” $205.4 million.
4. “Toy Story 2,” $179.7 million (includes estimates through Dec. 26).
5. “The Matrix,” $171.4 million.
6. “Tarzan,” $170.9 million.
7. “Big Daddy,” $163.5 million.
8. “The Mummy,” $155.3 million.
9. “Runaway Bride,” $151.8 million.
10. “The Blair Witch Project,” $140.5 million.