U.K. biggest consumer of U.S. movies

Rental revenue reaches $499 mil in 2007

The U.K. stood as the biggest consumer of U.S. movies for the seventh straight year in 2007, sending back $499 million in rental revenue to the Hollywood studios, 10% more than in 2006.

Altogether, the six U.S. majors brought home a record $4.5 billion in '07, with No. 2 Japan accounting for $396 million, up 2.9% year-to-year; No. 3 Germany, $384 million, up 15.8%; No. 4 Canada, $342 million, up 2%; and No. 5 Spain, $304 million, up 4.9%.

The U.K. has been the market leader since 2002, when it unseated Japan, which vied with Germany as the prime buyer of U.S. product in the preceding decade.

The figures are part of a confidential MPA report sent to executives of the six major studios. (Unlike member companies, who consider Canada an adjunct to domestic distribution operations, the MPA classifies our northern neighbor as an international market.)

Based on regional deals between MPA distributors and local exhibitors, it's estimated that the money returned to studios after the exhibitors' cut, distribution/marketing expenses and taxes averages about 45%-47% of total grosses.

The overseas take of $4.5 billion topped domestic's $4.3 million in boxoffice rentals in 2007, keeping steady a foreign-domestic variance that has been almost 50-50 for the past five years.

Europe, based on the MPA stats, represented more than half of total international theatrical revenue (53%), with Germany's 15.8% marking the greatest growth as well as an impressive comeback from a severe decline that began in 2003.

Other rental coin saw the Asia Pacific region deliver 25%; Latin America, 11%; Canada, 8%; and the Middle East/Africa, 3%.

The top 25 international markets, ranging from the U.K. to Portugal, all showed growth in theatrical revenue, with the sole exception being No. 18 Sweden, which dipped 6%. Russia, which has been gaining steadily since the breakup of the Soviet Union, moved up a notch to 11th place and returned almost 40% more in theatrical revenue than the year before -- $140 million to $101 million.