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Paramount crosses $1 billion in U.S.

Studio becomes the first to reach mark in 2010

Paramount has become the first studio of 2010 to cross the $1 billion mark at the domestic B.O., as well as becoming the first studio in history to reach this milestone for four consecutive years — a notable accomplishment for Par chair-CEO Brad Grey.

Across town, 20th Century Fox also is about to jump the $1 billion mark domestically and has surpassed $2 billion internationally, making it No. 1 worldwide.

For years, Par lagged behind the other majors in marketshare, but the studio’s B.O. fortunes have improved greatly under Grey and Par vice chair Rob Moore, even while Grey has sustained several major shakeups in his top ranks.

Paramount adopted a lean and mean strategy, releasing fewer films than most of the competish. So far this year, it has only opened five titles nationwide. It also has been aggressive in making 11th-hour changes to a film’s release pattern, with success.

Through Sunday, studio’s domestic revs were $1.005 billion, led by Marvel Entertainment’s “Iron Man 2” ($306.9 million) and two DreamWorks Animation’s toons, “How to Train Your Dragon” ($215.4 million) and “Shrek Forever After” ($229.4 million). Par takes a distribution fee on Marvel pics.

Among the films opening in 2010, “Iron Man 2” is the No. 2 film after Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” ($334.2 million). Twentieth Century Fox’s “Avatar,” released in December, is the top grosser of the year at $466 million. “Avatar’s” total domestic cume is $749.5 million.

Paramount lays claims to three of the top five titles opening in 2010. “Shrek” is No. 3; “Dragon,” No. 5.

In the past three years, six Par films have crossed $300 mil domestically, more than any other major.

“This milestone reflects the hard work of so many people,” Grey said. “I especially want to thank Rob Moore, Frederick Huntsberry and Adam Goodman. We are all so proud of our teams, how they have worked together as well as with our partners.”

Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” also bolstered Par’s bottom line, cuming $128 million domestically. Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” grossed $43.7 million. Films released in late 2009 that continued to see strong biz for Par early in 2010 including “Up in the Air.”

Through Sunday, Warner Bros. domestic B.O. revs were $849.8 million; Disney, $794.4 million; Sony, $423.2 million; Universal, $376.5 million; Lionsgate, $237.9 million; and Summit Entertainment, $113.8 million.

“We are all incredibly gratified to have achieved this again in 2010 and for our fourth year running,” said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures. “As we look back, we’re proud of what our team has accomplished. As we look ahead, we’re excited at our prospects for the remainder of the year.”

Paramount’s upcoming releases include M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” in 3D onThursday, “Grease Sing-a-Long,” which rolls out July 8, and Jay Roach’s “Dinner for Schmucks” on July 30.

Paramount supplants the record set by Disney, which jumped $1 billion for three consecutive years at the domestic B.O.

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