Par rolling in global green, tops $1 bil o'seas in 1st try

Joins 4 other studios in milestone

Paramount Pictures International, the overseas distribution division of Paramount Pictures, said Tuesday that it has topped $1 billion at the foreign boxoffice, marking the first time in industry history that five studios have crossed that threshold in the same year.

All five companies, fueled by a strong array of summer tentpoles, reached billionaire status in July, with PPI joining Sony Pictures Releasing International, Warner Bros. Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International and 20th Century Fox International just as the month came to an end. PPI's accomplishment appears to enforce predictions that 2007 might well see an all-time record year at the international box-office.

DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third" and DreamWorks/Paramount's "Transformers" served as the locomotives that powered Paramount into the international $1 billion boxoffice club for the first time. The latest installment of the "Shrek" franchise, which has reached $400 million at the overseas boxoffice, set numerous all-time records for an animated offering, including recording the highest-grossing animated openings ever in about 25 international territories, according to PPI.

The sci-fi entry "Transformers," which reached an international gross of $248.5 million last weekend, is set to open this weekend in such major territories as Japan and Germany.

This is London-based PPI's first year as a stand-alone company after the breakup of United International Pictures, in which Paramount and Universal (now Universal Pictures International) were partners.

"For Paramount Pictures International to hit a billion-dollar gross in boxoffice in our first year of existence is an incredible achievement and a testament to the talented team we have here," PPI president Andrew Cripps said. "I congratulate and thank all of them for their hard work and dedication and also thank the filmmakers who have entrusted us with their films which have contributed to the record."