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Paramount takes $1 billion abroad

Milestone reached six weeks early

LONDON — Thanks chiefly to the knockout one-two punch of “Indiana Jones” and “Iron Man,” Paramount Pictures International has passed $1 billion in international box office grosses six weeks earlier than last year.

Studio sped past the $1 billion milepost on June 14, making it the first studio to bank $1 billion internationally this year.

Last year, PPI’s first in operation, the studio grossed $1.6 billion in total, reaching the $1 billion mark at the end of July.

PPI’s strong showing thus far this year is founded primarily on the boffo box office success of two summer tentpoles, which have combined for $560 million and are still in running. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” has banked $350 million and is yet to bow in Japan, and Robert Downey Jr. starrer “Iron Man” has chalked up $210 million in PPI territories ($250 million total international).

Other key performers for PPI have been family fantasy “The Spiderwick Chronicles” ($91 million), J.J. Abrams scarer “Cloverfield” ($90 million) and the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” which, boosted by its best picture Oscar win, lassoed $86 million at international wickets.

“This achievement is testament to the continued growth of the international marketplace, the fantastic films that we have for international distribution, and the first class team we have working for PPI around the world,” commented Andrew Cripps, president, PPI.

Currently showing good early international B.O. form for PPI is “Kung Fu Panda” ($41 million so far on the clock). Animated pic claimed over $20 million from just nine territories in its first weekend when it launched day-and-date on June 6, breaking records as the best animated opening of all-time in Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

Still to come from PPI is Mike Myers starrer “The Love Guru,” Ben Stiller helmed comedy “Tropic Thunder,” Shia LaBeouf starring thriller “Eagle Eye,” Ricky Gervais vehicle “Ghost Town” and DreamWorks Animation’s sequel “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.”

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