Warners rides 'Knight' to $1 bil overseas

WBPI third major international distributor to pass mark

As "The Dark Knight" took off overseas, Warner Bros. Pictures International became the third major international distributor to surpass $1 billion in foreign boxoffice revenue.

This is the eighth year in a row and the 10th time overall that WBPI has hurdled the industry benchmark.

Warner Bros. said that the Caped Crusader's opening blast of $40 million from only 20 markets "pushed" the company "over the $1 billion mark in international boxoffice."

Overcoming the disappointing performance of its early summer tentpole, "Speed Racer," the company's other summer releases -- the newest Batman entry, "Get Smart" ($65 million) and returns from key selected markets of New Line's "Sex and the City" -- made up for the let down.

Strong contributions came earlier in the year from "I Am Legend" ($210 million in 2008 for total of $328 million), "10,000 BC" ($174 million), "Sweeney Todd" ($100 million), "The Bucket List" ($81 million), and the German film "Keinorhasen," which took in $49 million in 2008 for a total of $63.5 million.

Paramount Pictures International passed the $1 billion benchmark June 16 and Fox International followed July 8.

Last year, for the first time in industry history, five of the six MPA companies topped $1 billion by the end of July; a sixth studio joined by the end of 2007.