Overall ticket sales clock in at $10 billion

Click here to view the chart: Record summer at international box office

The summer haul was the biggest ever at the worldwide box office as 3-D dinosaurs, the maturing boy wizard and oversized ‘bots smashed through the records set in summer 2007.

Early estimates show ticket sales for the overseas B.O. clocking in at $5.8 billion, with the majority of those revenues coming from Hollywood tentpoles.

That’s a 7% uptick over summer 2007, the previous record-holder for best summer thanks to beefy franchises “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider-Man” and “Shrek,” as well as the first “Transformers.”

Domestic box office revenues officially surpassed 2007 levels on Wednesday, when ticket sales reached $4.20 billion vs. $4.16 billion two years ago. That’s a 1% uptick, but with Labor Day weekend still to come, that gain will increase.

Studios say the increase at the foreign B.O. is especially noteworthy considering that exchange rates no longer favor American companies, as they did before last fall’s economic collapse.

Heading into the season, no one in Hollywood would have guessed that 20th Century Fox’s 3-D toon “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” would finish the summer No. 1 at the international B.O., cuming some $640 million through Aug. 31 and even besting “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” ($613 million).

“I think we can safely say that 3-D is here to stay. I don’t think you can have numbers like this if it was just a fad,” said Fox co-prexy of international distribution Paul Hanneman. “No one anticipated that we would get to these levels.”

“Ice Age: The Meltdown,” the last installment in the franchise, grossed $460.1 million overseas, $180 million less than “Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”

The 3-D headlines didn’t stop with “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” however. Disney/Pixar’s 3-D toon “Up,” which still has a substantial number of territories in which to open, has grossed an impressive $156.6 million to date. Disney’s 3-D toon “G-Force,” the studio’s mid-range summer entry, has cumed a healthy $67 million overseas.

Worldwide, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is the biggest earner of the season, cuming $907.7 million.

That’s followed by “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” at $833.4 million and Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” at $829.2 million.

“Transformers 2″ grossed $429.7 million overseas, safely ahead of the $390.5 million grossed by the original “Transformers.”

Fox is No. 1 in international market share at $1.09 billion, followed by Warner Bros. at $907 million and Paramount at $767.3 million. Sony’s foreign haul was $689.1 million, followed by Disney at $471 million and Universal at $384 million.

The summer did have its troublesome moments.

Fox, like other majors, started off the summer with a sluggish perf — the result of too many tentpoles bunched in the May corridor.

Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” grossed $166.6 million overseas, while “X-Men: The Last Stand” grossed $225 million in summer 2006. “Wolverine” earned $346.5 million worldwide.

Pattern was repeated with Fox’s sequel “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” Tentpole grossed $233.3 million, nearly $100 million less than the $323.6 million cumed by the first “Night at the Museum.” That film was released over the Christmas holiday in 2006, so the seasonal shift could have had an impact as well. “Battle of the Smithsonian’s” worldwide total is $409.8 million.

The difference was even more dramatic for Sony’s sequel “Angels and Demons.” In summer 2006, “The Da Vinci Code” cumed a whopping $540.7 million overseas. “Angels and Demons” grossed $351 million at the foreign B.O. (It took $133.4 million domestically.)

It’s not always obvious which titles will perform better overseas than domestically. That the Europe-set “Angels and Demons” would perform so much better internationally was not surprising. But it was hard to predict that “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” would make more than three times as much internationally as domestically, while “Half-Blood Prince” made twice as much at the foreign B.O.

Sony’s “Terminator Salvation” grossed $246 million internationally vs. just $125.3 million domestically, where Warners was distrib. Total haul was $371.3 million.

Last year, the summer’s biggest surprise was Universal’s musical comedy “Mamma Mia!,” which grossed north of $258 million through the end of August on its way to cuming $465.7 million.

Comedies have seen better-than-usual performances internationally this year.

Warner Bros.’ blockbuster comedy “The Hangover” has grossed an impressive $160 million overseas (domestic is $270.5 million to date). Worldwide total is $430.5 million.

Disney’s Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal” has grossed $116.1 million at the foreign B.O., and it still has a number of major markets in which to open. Domestic gross is $160.2 million to date for a worldwide tally of $276.3 million.

Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” surprised for a different reason. Most box observers questioned whether the pic would play overseas because of its ties to a toy property that was U.S. military-themed. But the film’s foreign and domestic gross are virtually the same, with $133 million. Worldwide total is $266.4 million.

Par got around the potential problem by having an international cast and setting the movie overseas.

Studio faced a somewhat similar challenge with “Star Trek.” The sci-fi franchise had never traveled well, but Par’s reboot was able to make it to $125.9 million at the foreign B.O. (domestic cume was $256.7 million for a worldwide total of $382.6 million).

U was the only major studio not to have a film on the summer’s top 10 international chart. Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” took a disappointing $76.9 million internationally vs. a boffo $133.1 million for “Borat” in 2006.

Universal is enjoying late-summer success with Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” which opened Aug. 21. Film has cumed $59.6 million in its first 10 days overseas. Last weekend, pic enjoyed a noteworthy hold, grossing $19.9 million from 2,854 playdates in 31 territories.

The Tarantino film still has many territories to open over the next few months. It debuts in Spain this month, followed by Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Korea in October. “Basterds” heads to Japan in November.

Click here to view the chart: Record summer at international box office

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