International take rises as 3D takes hold

If only President Obama could have delivered the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s state-of-the-union report instead of the healthcare plan.

While the general economy remained sluggish around the globe in 2009, worldwide box office was up 7.6% vs. 2008, with revenues of $29.9 billion.

The MPAA report comes out every year on the eve of ShoWest, the annual gathering of theater owners in Las Vegas, and this year’s report was an upbeat one. It’s designed to give exhibs a snapshot of where the film biz stood the previous year. In this instance, there should be many smiles in the cavernous ballroom at the Paris Hotel where the report will be dissected by MPAA prexy and interim CEO Bob Pisano and National Assn. of Theater Owners topper John Fithian.

In North America, B.O. revs clocked in at $10.6 billion in 2009, a hefty 10.1% hike.

The international B.O. also continued to flex its muscles, taking in $19.3 million, or 64% of the total kitty. That was a gain of 6.3% over 2008. Every year, moviegoers overseas become more important to Hollywood — indeed, international B.O. revs in 2009 were up a whopping 35.1% over 2005.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa raked in $9.9 billion in B.O. revs; Asia-Pacific, $7.7 billion; and Latin America, $1.7 billion. The Asia-Pacific rim saw the biggest gain over 2008, with 12.3%.

And foreign markets have the upper hand when it comes to the number of 3D screens. There are 3,548 3D screens in North America; 5,441 internationally. The largest portion, 3,495, are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This helps explain why 20th Century Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” grossed $688.2 million internationally, the top showing ever for a toon.

Here’s looking at you, Scrat.

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