Despite some technical woes, Sony is having a very good year.
For the first time in its history, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) will exceed more than $3 billion in worldwide ticket sales tomorrow, December 8th. It was announced by Jeff Blake, chairman, worldwide marketing and distribution for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group and vice chairman of SPE. This milestone achievement, reached with three weeks still to go in 2006, marks just the fourth time in motion picture history that any studio has reached the $3 billion mark in a single year.
Internationally, the studio has already realized its best year of all time, with just under $1.5 billion and counting. Domestically, the studio has already passed more than $1.5 billion and is on pace to surpass $1.573 billion, the most any studio has ever generated at the box office in a single year in North America, a record held by Sony since 2002.
2006 marks the third time in the past five years that SPE has been the #1 studio in domestic market share. As Sony finishes the year, the studio controls over 18% of all tickets sold in the United States and Canada. Led by The Da Vinci Code the worldwide blockbuster that has grossed over $750 million at the box office, SPE has seen four films exceed more than $100 million in domestic box office -- including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Click, The Da Vinci Code and Casino Royale -- and five more have surpassed the $100 million worldwide threshold ("Pink Panther", Monster House, Open Season, Underworld: Evolution, and Little Man).
Commenting on the announcement, Blake said, "This is the kind of year that is pretty hard to top. Hitting $3 billion in worldwide box office is an incredible accomplishment in every way. The fact that we are reaching this peak by potentially passing the domestic industry box office record while at the same time enjoying our best year ever internationally is just a staggering achievement that makes us all very proud. This isn't the result of just one film -- our entire slate really worked this year, and credit for our success goes first and foremost to the extraordinary filmmakers and actors that brought us The Da Vinci Code, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Click, Casino Royale, The Pink Panther, Underworld: Evolution, Monster House, Open Season, and so many others."
Blake also credited "the remarkable talent and hard work exhibited by our production, marketing, and distribution teams. Today, we're celebrating and thanking everyone who played a part in the success of our 2006 slate worldwide."
The studio reached its landmark achievement in a year that featured a record 12 films opening at #1 and strong performances from all the labels under the Sony Pictures Entertainment banner: Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Revolution Studios, TriStar Pictures, and co-productions in association with MGM.
SPE's year began with Screen Gems' Underworld: Evolution, which topped the box office and went on to gross more than $100 million worldwide. Two weeks later, Screen Gems' When a Stranger Calls debuted at #1, followed by Columbia's comedy The Pink Panther, which grossed over $150 million worldwide. In late April, TriStar delivered the horror hit Silent Hill, which opened #1 and went on to take in nearly $100 million worldwide, and the following week, the Robin Williams comedy RV led all releases in its first weekend and proved to have long legs at the box office by continuing to perform solidly throughout the summer, reaching $70 million domestically.
In May, Columbia produced its biggest smash hit of the year: The Da Vinci Code. The highly anticipated film delivered on every level, opening to $77 million domestically, reaching $217 million in the U.S. and an additional $538 million internationally -- becoming the highest-grossing international blockbuster in Columbia's history. The studio's success continued throughout the summer, as the comedies Click and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby both opened #1 and saw strong returns at the nation's ticket booths. Also, contributing to the studio's success this summer was the animated hit Monster House, which took in more than $135 million worldwide.
Heading into the fall, the studio added three more #1 openings. First came Columbia's Gridiron Gang, followed by the animated hit Open Season, the first film from Sony Pictures Animation, which has grossed more than $160 million worldwide, and Columbia's The Grudge 2. Most recently, Columbia released the 21st James Bond adventure Casino Royale to more than $40 million -- and the film has surpassed more than $300 million worldwide after just three weeks in release.