Fox's films gross $3.6 billion


In the competition for year-end bragging rights, 20th Century Fox claimed a new worldwide boxoffice record Wednesday -- new in every sense of the word.

Under the banner of Fox Filmed Entertainment, the studio announced a worldwide boxoffice tally of $3,559,521,971 in 2006, which it said was "the biggest worldwide boxoffice gross for any slate of pictures in the history of the motion picture business."

That number put Fox ahead of such worldwide records as Warner Bros. Pictures' 2004 figure of $3.415 billion and Buena Vista's 2003 figure of $3.402 billion.

In order to establish what it considers the new world record, Fox added its international haul of $2 billion; domestic returns from 20th Century Fox, which amounted to $1.39 billion; and domestic returns from specialty film division Fox Searchlight, which reached $163 million. Without the Searchlight totals, Fox would have come up just shy of the existing records.

In the past, however, when other studios have produced worldwide tallies, they have not included domestic returns from such specialty film divisions as the Walt Disney Co.'s Miramax Films, Warner's Warner Independent Pictures or Sony Pictures Entertainment's Sony Classics. Although when Time Warner reports filmed revenue earnings, it includes revenue from both Warners and sibling studio New Line Cinema, Warners does not include New Line in its own boxoffice tallies.

On the domestic side, Fox and Fox Searchlight have followed industry practice, reporting their tallies separately because though both are part of the larger Fox Filmed Entertainment, they maintain separate distribution setups.

By including Searchlight's revenue under the Fox Filmed Entertainment banner, Fox was rewriting the rule book, several of its competitors said. And if that were to happen, Warners could boost its 2004 figure by another $400 million, the amount that New Line grossed domestically that year, while Buena Vista would reach a new worldwide number if it included the $700 million that Disney subsidiary Miramax Films earned domestically in 2003.

By any account, Fox had a good year. Its $2 billion in foreign grosses represented the best showing among international distributors; domestically, Fox ranked third in market share, behind only Sony, the domestic leader, and Buena Vista; and Fox Searchlight, with hits like "Little Miss Sunshine," was the fourth-ranked indie or specialty film division -- behind only Lionsgate, the Weinstein Co./Dimension and Focus/Rogue. But whether that adds up to a worldwide record depends on how the rules for determining the records are defined.
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