EXCLUSIVE: Ticket sales for local language films amounting to at least a quarter of a billion dollars propelled Universal Pictures International’s (UPI) calendar year to $1.43bn.

According to executives, Universal Pictures distributed local language films that delivered more than $246.6m in 2014.

Notable US exports include Lucy, the Scarlett Johansson cyber thriller that grossed $232.1m, rising to $333m including EuropaCorp licensees.

That film swept through large parts of Europe and the rest of the world and went on to became the biggest R-rated release of all time in Russia.

The Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors was another key driver, grossing $120.4m to end the year as the biggest US comedy export in Austria, France, Germany, Taiwan, Thailand, Slovenia, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Action tale Dracula Untold was also a critical performer for UPI and took $159.6m internationally.

However a large part of the story comes from Universal’s local language films.

Top of the list was the Spanish rom-com Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Spanish Affairs), which finished on $77.5m and set the biggest opening weekend for a Spanish film and held on to the top berth for nine weeks en route to becoming the highest grossing Spanish film ever in Spain.

The sensation also ranks as the second biggest release ever in Spain on €56.2m behind Avatar on €77m.

Germany’s Der Medicus grossed $34.5m and fantasy release Viy 3D from Russia took $34.3m to finish as Universal’s biggest ever release in Russia.

Mrs Brown’s Boys from Ireland took $31.3m, while French comedy Babysitting grossed $20.6m — a Universal sequel is in the works — and Italian comedy Sotto Una Buona Stella earned $14.8m.

Another Italian hit distributed by Universal, La Scuola Piu Bella Del Mondo, took $7.3m. Brazil’s Trash grossed $6.6m.