’06 Overseas Box Office Sets New Record

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With tentpoles driving overseas moviegoing, Hollywood’s major studios saw 2006 foreign grosses rebound smartly by 9% and set a new record of $8.6 billion, reports Variety.

Final figures gave the five distributors (Disney’s BVI, Fox, Sony, Warner Bros. and UIP, which handles Paramount, Universal and DreamWorks) an edge over the record $8.5 billion in 2004.

Fox led with $2 billion, followed by UIP with $1.84 billion, BVI with $1.8 billion, Sony with $1.63 billion and Warner with $1.3 billion.

The breakdown for UIP, which has been mostly transformed into separate foreign distribution operations for Paramount and Universal, consisted of $940 million for Universal, $537 million for Paramount, $342 million for DreamWorks and $33 million from acquisitions.

Tentpoles were the key to foreign success in 2006 as a quintet of films — BVI’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Sony’s The Da Vinci Code and Casino Royale, Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown and UIP’s Mission: Impossible III — all cleared the quarter billion-dollar mark in overseas grosses. And they accounted for better than 26% of the total for the five majors.

And underlining the increasing prominence of foreign markets, the year also saw the second- and third-biggest films — The Da Vinci Code and Ice Age: The Meltdown — take in more than 70% of their worldwide grosses outside the United States. Most tentpoles tend to take in about 50% to 65% of their worldwide grosses overseas, but with Casino Royale opening this weekend in Italy, the James Bond pic will likely join that small group of U.S. studio films.

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