Harry Potter became 2002's highest grossing film internationally in what was the final triumph in a record year for Warner Bros Pictures.
The company saw its best year of all-time at the international box office in 2002, pulling in $1.6bn and beating its previous record of $1.34bn, set in 2001, by 19%. The massive gross is also the second biggest recorded internationally in one year for an MPA company, behind 20th Century Fox's 1998 haul of $1.97bn - fuelled largely by Titanic. The announcement of the company's gross was made by Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, president of distribution, and Sue Kroll, president of marketing, who jointly run the international division.
Warner Bros owed much of its international success in 2002 to the Harry Potter franchise. The first title, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, was still pulling in large audiences as it crossed over into the year and also launched in several territories (including much of Eastern Europe) during 2002. It made $195m during the year for the distributor.
The latest title, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, finished the year with an international tally of $476.1m as Warner Bros' only title in the international top 10 films released in 2002 (see chart below).
However the studio enjoyed strong success from other 2001 holdovers. Ocean's Eleven launched in 2001 but did not reach most international territories until 2002, taking $256.1m in the year. The studio also claimed $91.2m from the territories in which it handled New Line's The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of Ring (including Germany and Argentina).
Warner's big summer 2002 release, Scooby-Doo, finished just outside the top 10 of the year with $122.1m.
Successes from local productions and acquisitions came from titles such as Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella) which was released in Italy by Warner to the tune of $6m. In France local hit Le Boulet brought the company $15.6m while Italian local Febbre Da Cavallo took $4.8m.
It was the fifth time Warner Bros has passed $1bn in one year internationally following 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2001. The record is held by Buena Vista International with eight times. Warner is also expecting a strong year in 2003, spearheaded by the two Matrix sequels, The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions. It will also handle late year Tom Cruise starrer The Last Samurai. However, the company does not have international distribution rights for Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines which could bring its domestic distribution arm a big summer hit.
Fox's multitude of 2002 released hits brought the company second place for the year. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones led the way with $337.4m in international grosses, while Minority Report and Ice Age both grossed over $200m internationally. The company also handled international distribution for MGM's Die Another Day which had tallied $169.7m by year's end and is still going strong.
Columbia TriStar landed three titles in the international top 10 including Spider-Man at number two - which was the highest grossing film worldwide for the year with $818m.
Top 10 Films Released in 2002 Internationally
Title (International distributor)/ International gross
1 Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (Warner Bros) $476m*
2 Spider-Man (Columbia TriStar) $418m
3 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (20th Fox) $337m
4 Men In Black II (Columbia TriStar) $251m
5 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (Various) $203m*
6 Minority Report (20th Fox) $202.3m*
7 Ice Age (20th Fox) $202m
8 Signs (BVI) $174m
9 Die Another Day (20th Fox) $170m*
10 XXX (Columbia TriStar) $126m
*Still on major release at end of 2002