The success of The Dark Knight has raised hopes of a Bat-powered box-office surge across the world.
Some markets struggled in the first half of the year to match a strong 2007: Japan's box-office revenues, for example, fell 13.7% between January and the end of June, while Brazil dropped 8.8%. But many markets are now anticipating a very strong second half of the year.
The extraordinary success of The Dark Knight has fuelled much of the early optimism. While hopes were high for the film, few had tipped it to be a global phenomenon. Clearly the death of its star Heath Ledger has added an unexpected - albeit unwanted - dynamic to the release, but right now cinemas are happy to ride the wave.
Warner Bros Pictures International's blockbuster took an estimated $65.6m weekend gross from 43 markets for $126.3m after its first two weekends - that is more than 2005's Batman Begins took in total in the same territories.
The next major territory will be South Korea on August 7, followed by Japan (August 9), Spain and France (August 12) and Germany (August 21).
Batman will not take on the world alone: expected worldwide smashes for the second six months include Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, James Bond film Quantum Of Solace and animations Wall-E and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (see box).
Given that Bond and Potter have a strong UK element (even if the UK Film Council's claims for them as British films may be overstating the case), there are high hopes for a stellar second half of the year in the UK, even matching last year's record-breaking numbers.
Japan is another territory hoping for sharp rises. Its disappointing first-half numbers were due mainly to a lack of tentpole pictures from Hollywood. Both Sony Pictures and Walt Disney had surpassed the $92.4m (Yen10bn) mark by the same point in 2007.
The Dark Knight (August 9), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (August 23), Wall-E (December) and Harry Potter should provide a huge boost, giving Hollywood product the majority market share by the end of the year.
The studio excitement will be particularly welcome in territories where local films have shouldered a large burden.
Germany, for example, enjoyed a spectacular first half of the year - up almost 50% on 2007 - driven mostly by local hits such as Til Schweiger's romantic comedy Rabbit Without Ears and Dennis Gansel's school drama The Wave.
Box-office takings for German films increased year on year by almost 50% in the first half of 2008. German films posted $103m (EUR64.4m) in the first six months of 2007, but this total climbed 49.1% to $153.6m (EUR96m) in the same period this year. While local success is welcome, ticket sales for US films slipped 8.5%, to $367.4m (EUR229.6m) from last year's $401.4m (EUR250.9m), and the releases of all other films generated 23.1% lower takings than during the first half of 2007 to come out at a total of $54.4m (EUR34m).
A strong second six months for blockbusters should redress the balance, suggesting a year that will challenge box-office records. What Germany may achieve is the current box-office nirvana - massive Hollywood numbers mixed with local blockbusters.
|Potential blockbusters for the second half of 2008|
|Aug 1||The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor (Universal)|
|Aug 15||Tropic Thunder (Paramount-DreamWorks)|
|Aug 15||Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros)|
|Nov 7||Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Paramount-DreamWorks)|
|Nov 7||Quantum Of Solace (Sony)|
|Nov 21||Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros)|
|Nov 28||Bolt (Disney)|
|Dec 12||Twilight (Summit Entertainment)|
|Dec 12||The Day The Earth Stood Still (Fox)|
|Dec 26||The Spirit (Lionsgate)|
|Other contenders for box-office gold|
|Aug 29||Babylon AD (Fox)|
|Sept 19||Ghost Town (Paramount)|
|Aug 8||Pineapple Express (Sony)|
|Oct 3||Religulous (Lionsgate)|
|Oct 10||City Of Ember (Fox)|
|Oct 10||Quarantine (Sony)|
|Oct 17||Max Payne (Fox)|
|Oct 10||Body Of Lies (Warner Bros)|
|Oct 17||W (Lionsgate)|
|Oct 24||Saw V (Lionsgate)|
|Nov 14||Australia (Fox)|
|Dec 5||Punisher: War Zone (Lionsgate)|
|Dec 19||The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Paramount-DreamWorks)|
|Dec 19||Yes Man (Warner Bros)|
|Dec 26||Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage)|