Warner Bros. hits $1 bil B.O. o’seas

Subsidiary crosses mark for 6th time

Only seven months into 2003, Warner Bros. Pictures Intl. has surpassed the billion-dollar mark, with a year-to-date foreign box office of $1.012 billion.

Milestone marks the sixth time the subsidiary has crossed this threshold (’03, ’02, ’01, ’99, ’95, ’93) — and the fastest that it has done so in studio history.

The subsidiary is jointly run by Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, prexy, distribution and Sue Kroll, prexy, marketing, for the international feature film unit.

Since 2001, the first full year that Kwan-Rubinek and Kroll were at its helm, the unit has had three consecutive years grossing more than $1 billion, finishing top among all studios in 2001 and 2002.

WBPI’s current overseas tally puts it ahead of all competition year to date. (At the end of June, Warners had hit $975 million in foreign grosses, while its closest rivals, Disney and Fox, were tracking at $586 million and $567 million, respectively.)

The billion-dollar gross was fueled by pics like “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” which boasts the third-highest international gross of all time; “The Matrix Reloaded,” the first film ever to break the $100 million mark abroad in a single weekend and the highest-grossing U.S. “R”-rated film of all time; and “Two Weeks Notice,” toplining Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, which has grossed $108 million to date.

New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” also figures in the total as WBPI handled the second installment of the epic in German-speaking territories and in Eastern Europe, raking in $82.5 million.

The billion-dollar total also includes $50 million generated by Warner Bros. movies that were distributed abroad by Village Roadshow Pictures.

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