The DreamWorks Animation feature Kung Fu Panda and other summer hits have helped Paramount Pictures become the first studio to reach $1 billion in ticket sales in North America this year. The studio crossed the billion-dollar mark overseas last week, and currently has the three highest grossing domestic releases of 2008 in Iron Man ($305 million), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($291 million) and Kung Fu Panda ($156 million).
Over the weekend, Kung Fu Panda overtook 20th Century Fox Animation’s Horton Hears A Who! to become the year’s highest grossing animated movie, a title that may very well go to Disney/Pixar’s WALL●E before the summer is over. The latest effort from Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton hits theaters this Friday.
Paramount was also the first studio to hit $1 billion last year, with ticket sales led by DreamWorks’ Transformers, which took in 700 million worldwide in 2007. The company hopes to keep the 2008 box office raging with the comedy DreamWorks’ Tropic Thunder starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black (August 15), DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Nov. 7), DreamWorks’ The Soloist starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. (Nov. 21), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett (Christmas Day) and DreamWorks’ Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (Dec. 26).