Distrib scores most gold

AMSTERDAM — “The Passion of the Christ” landed Icon its first Nielsen EDI Gold Reel for passing the $100 million mark worldwide at Cinema Expo 2004 where Buena Vista Intl. scooped most honors and attendees stressed the value of international biz in offsetting disappointing domestic intakes.

Capping a boffo June-to-June year, BVI scored $1.8 billion internationally spearheaded by “Finding Nemo,” which pulled in $525 million outside North America. Animated fish pic holds the record for international toon performer.

Thanking the aud, BVI prexy Mark Zoradi was quick to underscore the crucial shot in the arm prizewinners “Brother Bear” and “The Haunted Mansion” got from campaigns across the Pond. ” ‘Bear’ is a movie that did $165 million internationally against a U.S. gross of $85 million,” he noted.

Zoradi and BVI executive VP of acquisitions Anthony Marcoly also sang the praises of “Bruce Almighty,” a pickup from Universal, which Marcoly said was “the highest-grossing acquisition we ever made.”

Addressing attendees on tape, Mel Gibson lauded the grassroots campaign that brought “Passion” into untapped sectors of Europe’s cinemagoing market, especially in Catholic Italy, Poland and Spain. Subtitled epic pulled in $238 million in foreign coin, out of a $608 million cume.

After thanking his overseas distributors, Mel quipped: “Now I can finally afford to take my family to EuroDisney.”

“Love Actually,” “American Wedding,” “Hulk” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” all from Universal, won UIP four nods.

Speaking to the home crowd in a taped message, Brit helmer Richard Curtis, who last year came to Amsterdam to tubthump “Love, Actually” noted that all his pics do best in Europe. “This makes me feel suave, sophisticated and talented,” Curtis said, jokingly downplaying the U.S. market’s importance.

A trio of prizes went to Warner Bros. for “The Last Samurai,” “Matrix Revolutions,” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” Different release strategies have proved beneficial for Warners, with “Revolutions” opening day-and-date, while there was a four-month gap between “Something’s” domestic and international outings.

Col/TriStar also scooped three reels with a batch of sequels: “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” and “Bad Boys 2.”

Fox Intl. topper Stephen Moore was especially pleased about a reel going to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” which found its legs in the international marketplace after a dud U.S. bow. Fox also scored a prize for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

Two nods went to Miramax Intl. for “Scary Movie 3″ and “Kill Bill Vol. 1.”

“The Lord of Rings: The Return of The King” was New Line Intl.’s single prizewinner. San Fu Maltha, head of Dutch distrib A-Film, accepted the “Rings” award on New Line’s behalf for the second consecutive year.

The 21 films celebrated in Amsterdam generated $8 billion in box office worldwide.

“These really are the movies that drive the international film economy,” said Nick King, prexy of Nielsen Entertainment Intl. “Judging by the start of the summer season, we’ll be dishing out a higher number of reels next year.”

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