Weak dollar gives lift to majors’ int’l biz

Studios see 12% B.O. gain

SYDNEY — If it weren’t for the soft greenback, the U.S. majors would have had a tough time maintaining an upswing in revenues from international media streams last year.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America’s all-media report for 2003 showed the studios’ revenues from the top 25 markets — which rep 92% of their business outside the U.S. — rose by 12%.

But if the currency rates of 2002 were applied to last year, the total would have been down by a bit more than 1% in those territories, it said.

The majors reaped $16.6 billion from all media sources abroad in ’03, while their U.S. haul went up by 13% to $24.5 billion, for a global total of $41.2 billion (Daily Variety, April 22). North America accounts for 64% of the studios’ all-media pie.

Europe is the healthiest sector: Revs from that region improved by 14% to $10.4 billion. Asia Pacific showed an 11% uptick, while Latin America’s contribution declined by 6%. Middle East/Africa was flat, as it has been for the past three years.

The report said worldwide feature film revenue increased by 12%.

Homevideo remains Hollywood’s biggest growth engine; global revs surged by $2.6 billion (up 16%) to $18.9 billion, repping 58% of total feature film revs. A 43% jump in DVD sales (38% in the U.S., 53% abroad) compensated for a 33% drop in VHS revs.

North American homevid sales went up by $1.3 billion or 12%, while VHS revs plunged by 41% to $2 billion.

Europe’s homevid earnings reached a five-year peak of $4.9 billion, up 26% from 2002 and 133% bigger than in 1999. The Asia-Pacific region posted a record $1.7 billion, while Latin America fell by 7%.

The studios’ international theatrical rentals soared 13%, repping 47% of the worldwide total of $7.5 billion. Theatrical was the only media sector to show growth in every region. Spain was the biggest improver, jumping by 27%. Canada grew by 8% to $261 million, an increase of 25% since 1999.

Worldwide free TV revs gained 12% to $11.4 billion, thanks to higher sales of series and telepics, as sales of theatrical features remained flat. U.S. TV revs shot up by 18% to $7.8 billion, while overseas markets ponied up $3.6 billion, level with 2002.

TV revenues from Europe generated $2.4 billion, with just a 1% increase in features and 8% in telepics/series. Asia-Pacific was up by 7% overall and Latin America fell by 8%.

Global pay TV sales increased marginally by 2% to $3.4 billion, with the U.S. rising 3% and the rest of the world up by 1%.

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