23 U.S. films top $100 mil o'seas

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Twenty-three U.S. films, just one fewer than 2004's peak of 24, bested the $100 million yardstick at the overseas market during 2007, a year marked by an all-time record in boxoffice revenue from foreign theatrical distribution.

The industry's record '07 take was aided by about 8% of found revenue from a favorable currency exchange created by the weak U.S. dollar. But never before have so many studio blockbusters reached such astonishing boxoffice figures in a single year.

Two films topped $600 million at offshore theaters, one went to more than $500 million, two surpassed $400 million, two hurdled $300 million and four exceeded $200 million.

The 23 $100 million foreign achievers delivered a total of $6.1 billion in boxoffice loot compared with the $4.1 billion from the domestic market for the same films during the same period.

In some instances, the overseas returns steamrollered the North American efforts. New Line's "The Golden Compass," a year-end day-and-date global release, hit a stalwart $195.5 million overseas as '07 came to a close, while the domestic market could do no better than a puny $63.1 million. Universal's British-made "Mr. Bean's Holiday" tallied $192 million abroad, but brought in only $32.6 million from domestic movie houses.

All told, only six of the 23 high scorers did better at home than abroad and only by slim margins in most cases.

But such films as Warner Bros.' "I Am Legend" ($206.1 million domestic compared with foreign's $116 million at year's end) and Disney's "Enchanted" ($113.9 million domestic vs. $112.9 overseas) picked up considerable steam early this month and were catching up or surpassing the domestic runs.

All six MPA companies, which brought back more than $1 billion each from foreign boxoffices (with Warner Bros. Pictures International hitting a record high of $2.24 billion), could boast about the extraordinary performances of their 2007 crop of tentpoles. Warners lists six for 2007, topped by "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix's" $645 million, the fourth film in the franchise to clear $600 million in the international market.

In addition to "Legend," other contributors to Warners' $100 million slate included "300," "Ocean's Thirteen," "Blood Diamond" and "Beowulf."

20th Century Fox International had four heavy hitters, with "The Simpsons Movie" batting $342.6 million, followed by "Night at the Museum," "Die Hard 4" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International had three, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($643 million), the biggest-grossing film of 2007 and fourth-most-popular film in the history of the business, and "Ratatouille" ($410.8 million), the fifth-biggest picture of the year. "Enchanted" joined the $100 million team at year's end.

Paramount Pictures International, in its first year as a stand-alone company, was represented by "Shrek the Third" ($475 million), "Transformers" ($387.2 million) and "Bee Movie" as the year came to a close.

Sony Pictures Releasing International's old reliable, "Spider-Man 3" ($555.4 million) lorded over "Pursuit of Happyness" and "Ghost Rider."

Universal Pictures International, also in its first year as an autonomous company, came aboard with "The Bourne Ultimatum" ($215 million) and with the surprise "Mr. Bean's Holiday."

New Line International bolstered "Golden Compass" with "Rush Hour 3" ($112.9 million), which was topped by domestic's $140.1 million.

There also were four films that joined the $100 million brigade in 2007 in carry-overs from late 2006: "The Holiday" ($141.6 million), "Babel" ($101 million), "Deja Vu" ($116 million) and "Flushed Away" ($113 million).
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