'Skyfall' is highest of franchise with nearly $700 million

It hasn’t been all bad news for Sony.

Despite posting seven-straight quarterly losses, the Japanese conglom’s Culver City-based film division is providing a reason to be optimistic. The studio surpassed the $4 billion worldwide benchmark through Sunday, beating Sony’s previous global theatrical record of $3.585 billion set in 2009.

Helping Sony reach its worldwide milestone, the studio’s 23rd James Bond installment, “Skyfall” — a co-production between Sony, MGM and Eon Productions — became the highest-grossing Bond installment to date, with $699.2 million globally. Pic surpassed 2006′s “Casino Royale” ($599.2 million).

“Exceeding $4 billion globally is a true rarity in this industry and it’s an extraordinary accomplishment for all of us at Sony Pictures,” said Jeff Blake, chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony.

At No.1 in global market share, Sony has amassed $1.628 billion domestically this year; it has also set a studio-best international tally of $2.4 billion.

Last year, two studios crossed the $4 billion global threshold: Warner Bros. and Paramount, the latter of which actually surpassed $5 billion worldwide.

“Skyfall” is on track to become Sony’s biggest global release this year — currently behind “The Amazing Spider-Man” ($754 million). The studio’s other top worldwide performers include “Men in Black 3,” which grossed approximately $624 million, and “Hotel Transylvania,” at $283 million globally.

Sony rounds out 2012 with Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” bowing Dec. 19.

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