For the studios, it's the race that really matters. No, not who will take home statuettes for Best Director or Best Picture, but which of the year's films scored financially. Overall, it wasn't a pretty picture. Ticket sales barely inched up, and the writers strike dampened the mood, even threatening to dim the glitter of the Academy Awards. Meanwhile, though, box office receipts rose 6 percent to $9 billion, largely because of three megahits: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, and Transformers. Their combined take came to $976.5 million, more than 10 percent of total ticket sales for the year.
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