Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI), theinternational distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), passed$1bn in ticket sales on Saturday (9) for the third consecutive year and the fifth in total.

Combined with the domestic division, which has also passed themilestone this year, SPE has grossed more than $2.043bn in 2004.

CTFDI previously passed $1bn in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003 and thisis its second biggest year behind the $1.305bn grossed in 2002 - the year ofSpider-Man.

"Our continued success is a tremendous testament to the qualityand diversity of the films released by Columbia Pictures, Revolution Studiosand Screen Gems throughout the entire year," SPE vice chairman and president ofworldwide marketing and distribution Jeff Blake said in a statement.

Blake continued: "We have the best marketing and sales divisionsin the business and the best part of this box office news is that it's onlyOctober. We still have another quarter of the year to continue ourperformance."

Spider-Man 2 has been the studio's key driver of the year, amassing $775mworldwide and taking more than $400m internationally, where it opened numberone in all its 70 markets.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse added $7.2m this weekend for a $36.8m international running total,powered by a $600,000 number one debut on 190 screens in Brazil that beat theopening of Shark Tale.The horror sequel opened fourth in the UK on $1.4m on 300 screens.

The action sequel Anacondas opened in third place in Australia on $760,000 on 150,taking $1.3m overall at the weekend for a $17m international cumulative score.

White Chicks grossed $2.6m for $10m, and the Britishgangster picture Layer Cake raised its UK total by $1.3m for $4.3m, falling 22% in its secondweekend.