United InternationalPictures (UIP) has proven that international audiences are there to be found in2005 having broken through the $2bn international box office mark last weekend.
With the mega-studio'spotentially biggest film of the year, KingKong, still to come UIP is already (as of December 11) tracking 4% ahead ofits 2004 numbers - which were a record $2.08bn at the close of the year.
UIP is the firstinternational distributor ever to cross $2bn in consecutive years and though King Kong will, no doubt, continue torack up revenues well into next year the 8,000 pound gorilla should deliversome hundreds of million before the year is through. The highly anticipatedPeter Jackson film releases this week - starting tomorrow (December 14) in someterritories - on more then 10,500 prints across 56 territories.
King Kongis the icing on the cake to what has been an excellent year for UIP. StevenSpielberg's War Of TheWorlds became the biggest Paramount release by UIP internationally with a gross of $355m.It was UIP's fourth biggest release of all time afterthe director's two Jurassic Park films and DreamWorks Animation's Shrek 2.
DreamWorks Animation alsodelivered a hit this year with Madagascar. The most successful animated film of the year grossedover $336m. This was backed up by Aardman Animations'Wallace & Gromit:The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit which has grossed$121m so far internationally.
Meet The Fockers got the distribution major off to a massive start atthe top of the year with a $234m gross, but strong support was scatteredthrough the year with The Ring 2($81m), The Interpreter ($77m) and$50m plus titles The SpongeBobSquarePants Movie, Lemony Snicket'sA Series Of Unfortunate Events and The 40-Year-Old Virgin all delivering.
"It has been a spectacularyear," said UIP chairman and CEO Stewart Till.
The UK has been especiallystrong with UIP handling five of the territories top ten of the year (and King Kong likely to join them) with Wallace & Gromit,War Of The Worlds, Meet The Fockers, Madagascar and Working Title hit Nanny McPhee -which will release through UIP around the rest of the world next year. AnotherWorking Title film released through UIP, Pride& Prejudice, is eleventh for the year.
"Purely from our point ofview the UK is absolutely stellar this year," Andrew Cripps,president and COO UIP, told Screen International. "Wallace & Gromit made more money inthe UK alone than the US."
Now, beyond King Kong, the company is looking aheadto 2006 - it's final year of operation in the majorinternational territories before Paramount and Universal open their own regional departments.
"With our very strongline-up in 2006, our ambition is to make it three [years] in a row," saysCripps.
The 2006 line-up will getgoing in January with the first international launches on January 5 of StevenSpielberg's Munich and Sam Mendes' Jarhead.The company will also handle both of the 9/11-themed films released next year,Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and Paul Greengrass's Flight 93.
The big live action summerrelease will come, once again, from Tom Cruise with the third in the Mission: Impossible franchise. This will be backed up by anotherfranchise third, The Fast And The Furious 3, and Michael Mann's Miami Vice, starring Colin Farrell andJamie Foxx. The animation line-up is also strong with Over The Hedge (featuring a voice cast ledby Bruce Willis), Barnyard and Aardman's firstcomputer-animated film Flushed Awayall on the slate.