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Paramount ranked No. 1 in market share at the domestic box office in 2011, taking the crown away from Warner Bros. after Warners’ three-year winning streak.
Paramount titles collected $1.96 billion in 2011 in North America, compared to $1.82 billion for Warner Bros.
Overseas, the news was just as good for Paramount, where it became the first studio in history to jump the $3 billion mark, with its titles earning $3.21 billion.
That puts Paramount’s global total at $5.17 billion.
Warner Bros.’ films took in $2.86 billion overseas for a global total of $4.67 billion, the second-best showing after Paramount among the Hollywood studios.
Paramount is credited for its fine-tuned marketing and distribution units, as well as for a focused development slate.
“Over the last six years, we’ve achieved everything we hoped we would,” Paramount chairman-CEO Brad Grey told The Hollywood Reporter. “We had three major franchise titles in 2011, Michael Bay’s Dark of the Moon, Paranormal Activity 3 and the recalibration of Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol, with Tom Cruise doing a great job.”
When announcing the good news, Paramount revealed its 2012 slate will include Halloween release Paranormal Activity 4. Other 2012 titles include Brad Pitt zombie tentpole World War Z, directed by Marc Forster, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Dictator, reteaming Sacha Baron Cohen with Borat director Larry Charles.
Ghost Protocol is the hit of Christmas 2011, grossing $366.5 million worldwide in less than three weeks. Paramount believes the film could ultimately earn close to $600 million worldwide, a franchise best.
Paramount’s challenge going forward will be to continue upping its own production pipeline after relying on third-party films from Marvel, as well as from DreamWorks Animation. The Marvel deal has now ended, while the distribution pact with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DWA is up at the end of 2012. One step Paramount took in 2011 was forming its own animation unit following the success of Rango.
Among Paramount’s 2011 titles, Dark of the Moon grossed $1.123 billion worldwide, followed by DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 with $665.7 million. The Paranormal threequel grossed $203 million — after only costing $5 million to make.
Marketshare can be a dubious distinction, since it says nothing about profitability. And on both DreamWorks Animation and Marvel films — which included Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011–Paramount only gets a distribution fee.
Even as Paramount celebrated its success, overall box office revenues were down 3.4 percent from 2010, while attendance fell to a 16-year low.
“I think the theatrical experience will be fine if we produce quality films that are entertaining,” Grey said.
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