Paramount has beaten Warner Bros for the crown of the world's most successful studio following a year in which franchises such as Transformers, Mission: Impossible and Paranormal Activity ruled the box office.
Warner had been the top studio for the past three years, but Paramount managed a worldwide total of $5.17bn (£3.32bn) in 2011 to take the No 1 spot. Its major films included Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which took $1.123bn worldwide, Kung Fu Panda 2 with $665.7m and Paranormal Activity 3 with $203m on a budget of just $5m. Warner, which released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 and The Hangover part 2 last year, was close behind with $4.67bn.
"This achievement reflects the combined efforts of our entire team across the globe and the careful process by which we select the projects and partners we believe in," said Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey. "We produce pictures that aspire to entertain audiences around the world, while at the same time we have sought to find innovative ways to reach moviegoers in this changing entertainment environment."
[source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jan/03/paramount-beats-warner-bros-box-office. You can read more on this at http://www.deadline.com/2012/01/paramount-topples-warner-bros-for-1-in-2011-market-share-with-record-5-17b-worldwide/]
Increasingly, as the article below discusses, the big 6 are producing blockbuster movies not primarily for the US audience but designed to have internationl, global appeal. Rather ironic when we consider how Hollywood influence means that our biggest films are mainly designed to appeal to a US audience!
Cinema is terraforming, but Hollywood is still the heavyweight champ2011's highest-grossing films were global hits, but Hollywood's franchise machine still moves faster and harder than anyone
|'Wait … Can you hear Hollywood crumbling?' … Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2|
2011's international box-office chart was predictably topped by the grand starburst when a boy wizard became a man. But a boy reporter, 14 places furth
er down a list completely dominated by Hollywood, had the keenest eye for the nature of the forces now terraforming mainstream cinema, and in the years to come. Steven Spielberg's version of Tintin is only just getting a shot at US hearts, but it's still striking how much of its business it has done overseas: more than 80%. As others have already noted, this seems to be one of the first blockbusters engineered to appeal to the rest of the world first and the US second.
Even if they weren't as bold about it, most of the top 10 international films (ie all markets except the US) knew which way the wind was blowing. The top two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($947.1m international) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($802.8m) – made around 75-80% of their box office outside America; most of the rest somewhere around 50%. There's no getting round it now: blockbusters have to pack for long-haul now. When Tom Cruise chooses to give his latest film the 21-gun salute in the likes of Dubai, the old Times Square world premiere starts to look a bit passé.
So if there's one thing to conclude from an early look at 2011's global box-office stats, it's the tight chokehold Hollywood is keeping as its trade shifts overseas. And no wonder. It's been a difficult year for the studios – with no replacements in sight as major franchises end, the star system still underperforming and continuing worries about future financing – and the global scene is the one chink of light. Paramount became the first studio to break the $3bn mark in international ticket sales, thanks to Transformers 3, Mission Impossible, Kung Fu Panda 2, Thor, Puss in Boots and others.
Overall totals for worldwide box office last year should be released in a couple of weeks, so we'll get a clearer idea of the exact patterns of Hollywood pre-eminence then. But its influence in 2011 looks stifling. All of the top 20 films apart from Rio, Black Swan and Real Steel were sequels or based on an existing franchise in some medium. That doesn't exactly create a level playing field for other industries with more unlikely ideas to break into the global market.
The absence of any King's Speech-style breakout hit from outside the US last year is depressing. Where Hollywood has looked to the rest of the world to fill its coffers in tough times, the rest of the world seems to be doing the opposite: battening down the hatches and clinging to domestic: Intouchables ($133.2m) and, with Europe on the brink, the timely Franco-Belgian border comedy Rien à Déclarer ($90m) are the two biggest non-Hollywood films, in 21st and 41st place respectively. These are breakout-level figures – except they happened purely inside France.
It's hard to say if this was a conscious strategy, or it's just a lull in the supply of high-quality titles with universal allure. But it's the same story further down, for The Inbetweeners Movie ($80m/46th) and Italian comedy Che Bella Giornata ($60.6m/60th): sizeable local favourites, again. And so on for other high-grossing non-Hollywood films in 2011: Japan's Studio Ghibli offering Korikuko-Zaka Kara, Korean historical actioner War of the Arrows, the father-and-daughter comedy Kokowääh, from arguably Germany's biggest star, Til Schweiger.
2010 had The King's Speech ($414m worldwide total) and Studio Ghibli's Borrowers adaptation Arrietty ($126m); 2009 Red Cliff: Part 2 ($118m) and the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ($94m): titles that managed to muscle their way through the Hollywood thicket to some kind of global clout. It's not surprising, with the economic climate worsening, this is getting harder to do. Intouchables, which has been picked up by the Weinstein Company, and The Inbetweeners Movie, which has been doing the rounds in France, Russia and elsewhere, might go on to make the leap in 2012. The Artist, despite the Oscar talk, is far from a safe commercial prospect; it did poor business in France ($13m) for such a well-reviewed film. Only The Flowers of War, the Zhang Yimou film about the Nanjing massacre, seems like a sure bet on this score. It's already taken $66m to become China's No 1 film for 2011, and Christian Bale will surely take it into crossover territory elsewhere. (Especially if he continues annoying the Communist party.)
It will take more of that pole-vault spirit to give 2012's international box-office charts some welcome diversity. When Indian and Middle Eastern money is keeping some US studios afloat, you can question what exactly a Hollywood movie is these days. But whatever it's becoming, it's equally clear that Hollywood is still moving harder and quicker than its international competitors, on both macro and micro levels. Even some apparently indigenous hits, like Kokowääh, are the fruits of the studios' new favourite investment ploy: co-producing (Warner, in this case) local films. But there's no illusions about 2011 – this round went to the heavyweight reigning champion.
• What global box-office stories should we be writing about? How does Hollywood hawk its wares in your country? Let us know in the comments below.