Par makes quick work of $1 bil

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Paramount Pictures, pumped up on DreamWorks steroids, crossed the $1 billion mark in domestic ticket sales Monday.

With the muscular, record-setting "Transformers" — which grossed $155.4 million during its first week of release — pushing the studio over the top, Paramount said Wednesday that it hit the $1 billion mark in 189 days, the earliest any studio has reached that benchmark in a calendar year.

The year is well on its way to becoming the studio's highest-grossing year since 1998, when, riding the success of "Titanic," it collected a domestic tally of $1.046 billion, a level the studio expects to surpass this weekend.

The fastest-to-$1 billion record had been held by Sony Pictures, which, thanks in part to the original "Spider-Man," hit that mark July 11, 2002. Paramount — which beat that record by two days, grossing $1 billion on July 9 — did benefit from the fact that the cost of ticket prices has escalated during the past five years.

In the process, Paramount also reclaimed the position of the No. 1 studio in terms of market share. It previously held that distinction from April 21-May 3 but was forced to temporarily surrender the title to Sony when "Spider-Man 3" hit theaters in early May.

Paramount's biggest-grossing release to date is DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third," which has collected $317 million domestically since its May 18 release. Other titles that have contributed to the surge include the Paramount/DreamWorks co-production "Transformers," whose gross currently is more than $173 million; the DreamWorks/MTV Films comedy "Blades of Glory" ($118.2 million); the DreamWorks comedy "Norbit" ($95.4 million); and the DreamWorks teen thriller "Disturbia" ($79.3 million).

"Dreamgirls," the late 2006 DreamWorks/Paramount co-production, also contributed to the till as it collected most of its $103.4 million tally in 2007.
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