Columbia TriStarFilm Distributors International (CTFDI) says it has passed $1bn in internationalticket sales this year, the third time the Sony Pictures Entertainment divisionhas crossed over that billion-dollar threshold overseas.

The totalworldwide box office gross for parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment nowstands at $2.4bn, already the fifth highest annual total on record with still fourmonths to go. The annual gross mark to beat is the $2.68bn record set by 20thCentury Fox in 1998, the year it released Titanic.

The previous overseas record for CTFDI was $1.08bn in2000, when releases included Stuart Little,Erin Brockovich, Charlie'sAngels and Hollow Man. The distributor also passed $1bn in 1997 with MenIn Black, Jerry Maguire and My Best Friend's Wedding helped Sony Pictures Entertainment sets its previousworldwide best of $2.34bn.

Sony's twomajor revenue earners this year have been the phenomenal Spider-Man, which has grossed $800m worldwide, and MenIn Black II, which hastaken $420m. In addition there has also been strong support from the adultthriller Panic Room,which has contributed close to $100m.

"While wehave all been staggered by the record-breaking performance of our films in thiscountry, audiences overseas have embraced these titles with incredibleenthusiasm," said Jeff Blake, president of worldwide marketing and distributionfor Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group as he announced the milestones thisweekend. "This has been a colossal year for Sony Pictures Entertainmentthroughout the world and we couldn't be more proud of all our CTFDI partners whohave done an outstanding job nurturing these films and making them such atremendous global success."

Mark Zucker,senior executive vice president of CTFDI, added: "What is most remarkableis that we still have a stunning slate to launch this fall and there aresignificant territories that have not yet played films like XXX, Men in Black II, Stuart Little 2 and Mr. Deeds. We still have nearly four months leftin 2002 and we have the force of momentum as we build into the release of filmslike I Spy, and AdamSandler's Eight Crazy Nights."

"Themagnitude of this success is truly rewarding for all of us and it is atestament to the phenomenal work of our marketing team in Los Angeles and the strengthof our international offices, " said Nigel Clark, senior executive vice president,international marketing for CTFDI.

Meanwhile, theoverseas grosses just keep pouring in for Sony as another $17m was added to itsinternational coffers this weekend alone. CTFDI continued its rapid rollout of XXX with a number one opening in Brazil whereit scored an estimated $1.1m from 377 screens. If figures are confirmed later thisweek, XXX will be theseventh highest industry opening of all time in that territory.

The Vin Dieselaction vehicle also scored a terrific opening in the United Arab Emirates, grossinga stunning $375,000 on 24 screens for the second highest industry opening ofall time in the UAE behind Spider-Man. XXX grossed $2.2m in total for an international cumulative score of$5.7m. Next weekend, the film opens across Australia, Greece, Egypt, SouthAfrica, Iceland and Turkey.

Men In BlackII passed $30m inGermany in its eighth week on release and with no major openings scored $4.8minternationally to give it a $221.5m running total.

Elsewhere, TheSweetest Thing closed inon its $24.4m domestic score to register an international cumulative gross of$23m, while Stuart Little 2 took $3.1m to raise its international total to $57.2m.