‘Matrix’ puts WB Int’l over $1 bil for the year

O'seas B.O. up 40%

A stellar performance by sci-fi actioner “The Matrix” has pushed Warner Bros. Pictures Intl.’s overseas box office total over the $1 billion mark for the year.

On Thursday, WB’s foreign tally was at $1.03 billion, with a projected 1999 final total of $1.07 billion.

That’s a 40% increase over last year’s $760 million tally and the highest total since 1993’s $1.08 billion. The last time the studio passed the billion-dollar milestone was 1995’s “Batman Forever”-inflated $1.06 billion result.

“The Matrix” is WB’s highest ever worldwide grosser, nabbing a global cume of $445 million, which is expected to rise to $455 million. It broke Warner opening records in more than 27 markets to gross $285 million overseas.

Other WB films passing the century mark overseas in 1999 were “You’ve Got Mail” (1999 cume: $125.7 million, with a further $9.3 million earned in 1998) and “Eyes Wide Shut,” expected to finish 1999 at $105 million. “Eyes”

just became the 14th film to pass the century mark overseas in 1999 and is the highest-grossing Stanley Kubrick film.

“Wild Wild West” is at $98 million and is about to become the 15th movie of the year to pass the century mark as it bows in Japan, while “Deep Blue Sea” (cume: $87 million) is WB’s fifth highest grosser of the year and is expected to reach $100 million in January.

While WB had about 90 releases in 1999, all but $37.1 million was earned by just 14 titles, which also include “Payback” ($81 million), “Analyze This” ($70 million) and “Message in a Bottle” ($66 million). Interestingly, Turkish acquisition “Propaganda” picked up $4.4 million.

WB is the third major this year to mint $1 billion from the increasingly lucrative overseas box office.

Disney’s Buena Vista Intl. cracked the milestone for the fifth year running (with hits like “End of Days,” “Toy Story 2,” “Runaway Bride,” “Tarzan” and “The Sixth Sense”) and Universal set a company record with hits like “The Mummy” and “Notting Hill.”

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