Sony Pictures Entertainmentpassed $1bn in North American ticket sales yesterday (Oct 30), marking thefirst time in the studio's 79-year history that it has reached the milestone intwo consecutive years.

Powered by eight number onefilms this year and five that have grossed more than $100m, executives will behoping to make it three in a row with an 80th anniversary 2004 slate thatincludes Spider-Man 2, the romanticcomedy 50 First Dates and horrorthriller Secret Window starringJohnny Depp.

SPE currently ranks secondbehind Buena Vista in 2003 market share, thanks to number one bows from DarknessFalls, Anger Management, Identity, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Boys 2, S.W.A.T., Once Upon A Time In Mexico and Underworld.

The five $100m-plus filmshave been Anger Management, Charlie's Angels 2, Bad Boys 2, S.W.A.T. and Daddy Day Care.

"To follow up our recordbreaking performance in 2002 with this kind of encore is quite an achievement,"SPE vice chairman Jeff Blake said in a statement.

"It is truly a testament toAmy Pascal and our entire production, marketing and distribution teams and JoeRoth and his team at Revolution Studios that we have been able to reach thismagnificent milestone for the second year in a row."

SPE set the all-timeindustry record for North American ticket sales last year with $1.57bn, anamount that owed much to the phenomenal success of Spider-Man.

The studio aims to build onits 2003 gross with upcoming releases of thriller The Missing, starring Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones,romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, and the drama Mona Lisa Smile, which stars Julia Roberts and Julia Stiles.