Paramount slips to 7th, Fox takes top spot overseas

Turnabout is fair play.

Being the market leader one year is no guarantee of a repeat victory — and last year’s champ Paramount is a drastic example of that. Far fewer tentpole releases at the Viacom-owned studio let a Bat-propelled Warner Bros. take the lead, with Paramount falling even behind Lionsgate for the first time in year-to-date domestic totals.

If all goes as expected for Lionsgate’s “Twilight” finale, Par could stay out of the top six studios tallies for the entire year.

By this time last year, Paramount was easily the market share leader both domestically and abroad, but a drought of product left the studio trailing 2011 by a steep 57% worldwide. This summer alone, Par is off even further globally, down a whopping 70%, from the first weekend in May through Sept. 2.Warners leads 2012 domestically, with $1.21 billion to date; Fox is ahead so far this year internationally, totaling $2.061 billion.

While Disney ranks third overall domestically, with $1.114 billion, the studio was on top Stateside for the summer (with $916 million), thanks to Marvel’s smash hit “The Avengers.” Fox, meanwhile, outpaced the Mouse internationally this summer, matching Sony as the only two studios in 2012 to cross $1 billion seasonally.

Sony’s summer V.I.P. — “The Amazing Spider-Man” — has amassed an impressive $735 million worldwide, while fellow superhero pic “The Dark Knight Rises” drove summer totals for Warner Bros., reaching $1 billion globally. Both pics fared well in a head-to-head battle in China last weekend.

A pair of DreamWorks Animation pics, “Madagascar 3″ and “Rise of the Guardians,” stand to be Paramount’s highest-grossing releases this year, a bittersweet victory since Fox will take over worldwide distribution duties for all DWA toons starting next year.

“Madagascar 3″ so far has tallied $603.4 million worldwide, while “Guardians” launches Stateside over Thanksgiving weekend.

Summer grosses have been strong for toons all around: “Ice Age: Continental Drift” became a huge success for Fox overseas, totaling more than $676 million and counting. With Italy still to come Sept. 28, “Drift” should wind up eclipsing its “Ice Age” predecessor, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” ($693.9 million), to become the highest-grossing animated film ever internationally.

Disney took a slow overseas approach for Pixar’s 13th animated feature, “Brave.” Pic’s been released in 51 territories so far, with $239.4 million, for a worldwide cume of $472 million.

So far this year, Paramount has released only six films vs. eight in 2011, which included the studio’s first-ever $1 billion pic “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Par bumped three high-profile tentpoles — “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “World War Z” — to 2013.

Par had more success internationally with its second highest-grossing 2012 release, “The Dictator,” as it has earned $115 million overseas vs. nearly $60 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, the massive first-quarter success of “The Hunger Games,” which stands as the year’s No. 3 pic, at $407 million, bumped Lionsgate ahead of both Fox and Paramount in domestic market share. The company bought Summit earlier this year for a reported $412.5 million. And while the combined might of the industry’s leading minimajors has yet to come full circle in market share potential, it will: Summit’s highly-anticipated final “Twilight” installment bows Nov. 16 and stands to push Lionsgate-Summit even higher up in overall domestic ranking.

Market share rarely ever tells the whole story, however.

Paramount’s lack of films also means it hasn’t had to pay for pricey marketing campaigns, though the studio still has to account for likely hefty overhead costs.

In addition to “Rise of the Guardians” on Nov. 21, Par will launch six other films this year, including “Paranormal Activity 4″ (Oct. 19) and three Christmastime releases — “Jack Reacher” and “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,” both of which bow Dec. 21, and “The Guilt Trip” on Dec. 25.

Universal is this year’s most improved, as the studio has increased 54% year-to-date internationally. That’s mostly due to first-quarter successes like “The Lorax” and “American Reunion,” and an evenly distributed summer of tentpoles including “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Ted.” U’s totaled $1.113 billion so far domestically — up 24% over 2011.

Sony and Disney have done slightly better compared to their domestic market shares through Labor Day 2011, up 30% and 27%, respectively.

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