Warners bags a billion overseas

Hits milestone for 6th year in row, led by 'Superman'

Warner Bros. Pictures International said Thursday that it topped $1 billion at the overseas boxoffice for a sixth consecutive year, further demonstrating the industry's comeback after 2005's Year of the Slump.

Warners becomes the fourth major studio to hit the $1 billion mark this year, joining Buena Vista International, 20th Century Fox International and Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Warners, the full-year leader in 2005 with $1.89 billion, was in fourth place at the end of August with $850 million but cited the rollout of such films as Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" and Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" for bolstering its overseas standing.

Results from films released early in the year and during the summer might not have lived up to expectations, but the company is high on the fourth-quarter prospects for George Miller's "Happy Feet" and Edward Zwick's "Blood Diamond."

The company's leading overseas grossers this year include "Superman Returns" with $191 million; "Poseidon," $121 million; "The Lake House," $63 million; and "V for Vendetta," $62 million. As a carry-over from 2005, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" brought in $72 million this year, and a French acquisition, "Les bronze amis pour la vie," accounted for another $76 million.

"This year, we saw exceptional work on the diverse slate of films we released in 2006, from blockbusters to specialty films," international marketing president Sue Kroll said. "We're thrilled to be hitting our stride with so many strong films closing this year."

Added international distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, "As we continue to work with our partners in the exhibition community and our teams in the territories, it's fantastic to hit this high-water (mark), and this is a real testament to their hard work and continued excellence."

Warner Bros. International grossed $2.2 billion in 2004, making it the first studio to surpass $2 billion at the overseas boxoffice.