Fox International hits $1 billion

First distributor to top the milestone this year

Thanks to a super-heated boost this weekend from "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," 20th Century Fox International has become the first distributor to hit the $1 billion mark at the overseas boxoffice this year.

The third "Ice Age" debuted abroad to $151.7 million, logging the highest-grossing animated opening ever overseas.

It joined two other big summer grossers that have contributed to the Fox coffers: "Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian," which has taken in $207.2 million internationally and has yet to open in the Japanese market, and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which has collected $184.7 abroad; it also has yet to play Japan.

Fox's arrival in the billion-dollar club improves on its performance last year, when it hit $1 billion internationally on July 5. This year, it made that number on July 4. Last year, though, Fox was second-fastest, following Paramount Pictures International by three weeks.

Domestically, Paramount is the current market-share leader, having crossed the $1 billion mark during the weekend.

Other 2009 releases that have contributed to Fox's overseas bank account: MGM's "Valkyrie," which picked up $90 million of its $115.7 million international tally in territories that Fox handled; "Bride Wars," $56.3 million; and "Dragonball: Evolution," $48.3 million.

A number of 2008 releases that continued to sell tickets into 2009 also added to the till. This year, "Marley & Me" took in $98.1 million of its total international cume of $100.3 million. And Baz Luhrmann's "Australia," which opened on Christmas Day in many parts of the world, grossed $99 million in 2009 to reach an overall cume of $158.3 million.

In Brazil, the local production "Se Eu Fosse Voce 2" racked up $21.7 million, becoming the second-highest grossing film of all time in that territory, behind only Fox's "Titanic."

Fox International, headed by co-presidents Tomas Jegeus and Paul Hanneman, will add to its final 2009 accounts with the release of such films as the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" sequel and James Cameron's "Avatar."
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