Fuelled by hits like TheLast Samurai, Troy, Something's Gotta Give and the latest Harry Potterinstalment, among others, Warner Bros Pictures International (WBPI) claims tohave passed $1bn at the box office in record time.

The distributor announced internationalbox office receipts of more than $1.2bn on Jun 7, making it the first to reachthe mark so early in the year and the seventh time it has achieved themilestone.

However the record mark is disputed by Fox International, who claim to have passed $1bn in the first week of April 1998, the year that distributor released Titanic.

With Catwoman, The Polar Express and Ocean's 12 among remaining titles to come this year from WBPI, the studio couldcross the $2bn for the first time in history.

Box office figures areestimates and include $13m generated by Warner Bros pictures distributedthrough Village Roadshow Pictures.

This is the fourthconsecutive year WBPI has passed $1bn since it has been jointly headed up bydistribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek and marketing president Sue Kroll.

WBPI has passed $1bn in1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Key drivers have been TheLast Samurai, which has grossed$297m in the year to date, Troy's$274m, $140m from Something's Gotta Give, $136m from Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, $95m from The Lord Of The Rings: The Return OfThe King and $93m from Scooby-Doo2: Monsters Unleashed.

"Our success over thefirst half of this year is a true testament to the strength and collaborationof our teams around the world," Kwan-Rubinek said in a statement.

"Thanks to the tremendousefforts ranging from production, to post-production, to technical operations,domestic and international, we are especially pleased that we have been able toeffect successful day-and-date launches on some of our biggest films this year,including Troy, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and Scooby-Doo2: Monsters Unleashed."

"We are thrilled with thetremendous start we've had to this year; it's been rewarding to work on so manyterrific films with such gifted film-makers and talent," Kroll said in astatement.

"We're proud of oursuccessful marketing campaigns, which have been tailored for a diverse group ofaudiences around the world, and we're looking ahead to an exciting second halfof 2004."