'Dark of the Moon' transforms studio's perf

For the first time in the studio’s nearly 100-year history, Paramount has a $1 billion pic in its stable.

Par projected that “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” would crest the billion-dollar global B.O. mark on Tuesday. As of Monday, the franchise’s third installment cumed $338.8 million domestically, making it the year’s highest-grossing pic to date. As of Sunday, the pic had cumed $648.7 million in international markets.

“Dark of the Moon,” which stands as Par’s biggest-ever overseas release (its previous record holder, “Shrek Forever After,” took $513 million), has fueled another milestone for the studio: Paramount became the first studio this year to take more than $2 billion at the international box office. Par hit the mark on Sunday, five months earlier than its previous record in 2008.

Earlier this summer, the studio was first to reach $1 billion domestically thanks largely to the $180.7 million six-day opening of “Transformers” over Fourth of July weekend.

“We are grateful for the extraordinary work of Michael Bay and his filmmaking team, executive producer Steven Spielberg and everyone at Paramount around the globe,” said Par chairman-CEO Brad Grey.”Dark of the Moon” is the 10th film in B.O. history to hit $1 billion worldwide and the third this summer, following “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” All three titles were released in 3D.

Among the studios Par achieved the most success in 3D this summer. The format contributed 60% of “Dark of the Moon’s” Stateside opening, while the film earned roughly 67% from 3D internationally vs. 63% for “Pirates” and 61% so far for “Potter.”

DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2″ has also powered Par’s international success, with $447.3 million in foreign markets. It’s the highest-grossing animated film ever in eight Asian countries, including China and Korea.

“Thor” has contributed $267.4 million, while another Marvel Studios title, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” has raced to $53.9 million in little more than a week.

Other strong performers for the studio this year include “Rango,” with $119.6 million; “Little Fockers,” which earned $105.3 million of its $162.2 million gross in 2011; “True Grit,” with $79.9 million; and “No Strings Attached,” with $77.6 million.

Paramount Pictures Intl. is now on course for its first-ever $3 billion year, which the studio hopes will be realized by upcoming releases including “Cowboys and Aliens,” “Footloose,” “Paranormal Activity 3,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Puss in Boots” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.”

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