Thanks to battling robots, a parade of superheroes and a rejuvenated Tom Cruise, Paramount Pictures grabbed the global box-office crown for 2011.
On the strength of blockbusters such as "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol," the studio took in a record $5.17 billion worldwide, Paramount announced on Tuesday.
The studio, which released a total of 16 new films domestically last year, led the North American market with $1.96 billion and scored $3.21 billion internationally. Its box-office leaders included Michael Bay's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (which earned $352.4 million domestically), Marvel Studio's "Thor" ($181 million) and "Captain America: The First Avenger" ($176.7 million), and DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2" ($165.2 million) and "Puss In Boots" ($145.8 million). Brad Bird's "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol," the current box office leader, has earned $142.8 million so far.
"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," Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey said in a statement. "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 movie-goers in this changing entertainment environment."
Of course, Paramount only distributed some of the films that helped catapult the studio to the top of the heap. Hit movies such as "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Thor" were produced by DreamWorks Animation and Marvel, meaning that Paramount received an 8 percent distribution fee.
Yet, the studio fielded a number of in-house hits, among them "Super 8," "Paranormal Activity 3" and "Rango," all of which grossed more than $100 million domestically.
Next year, the studio will move forward without Marvel. The comic-book maker will release its forthcoming superhero films through its new corporate parent Disney starting next year. Moreover, its distribution pact with DreamWorks Animation is due to end in 2012, with both partners unlikely to extend the agreement.
However, Paramount has a pretty stacked 2012 slate that includes the zombie thriller "World War Z," starring Brad Pitt and directed by Marc Forster; "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Channing Tatum; another installment in the "Paranormal Activity" franchise; and "The Dictator," which re-teams Sacha Baron Cohen and "Borat" director Larry Charles.