Record Year for Paramount in 2011
On Thanksgiving Day, Paramount Pictures passed its previous yearly record of $1.714 billion in domestic earnings. Through Sunday, the company's $1.735 billion leads all studios for the year, including perennial winner Warner Bros. ($1.625 billion). In fact, Paramount now looks well-positioned to unseat Warner Bros. for the top spot for the first time since 2007.

Paramount has reached this impressive figure with just 12 new wide releases that have averaged a huge $131 million so far. Additionally, the studio received a boost from True Grit, which was one of the biggest holdovers from 2010 with $100.6 million.

Among 2011 releases, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is easily Paramount's highest-grossing movie with a massive $352.4 million. While it was down a bit from predecessor Revenge of the Fallen, it did have an above-average hold for the third entry in a franchise. Paramount also distributed Marvel movies Thor ($181 million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($176.6 million), both of which were solid even if they weren't able to get close to Iron Man levels. Finally, while they were notably off from their predecessors, DreamWorks Animation releases Kung Fu Panda 2 ($165.3 million) and Puss in Boots ($135.4 million and counting) also played major roles in Paramount's year. Interesting, Paramount's Top Five movies were all in 3D, though it's tough to tell if the success was because of or in spite of the technology.

While sequels and comic book adaptations led the way, Paramount's homegrown movies also performed solidly. Super 8 may not have matched director J.J. Abrams's Star Trek reboot, but its $127 million was a good showing for an original sci-fi movie. Rango, Paramount's first crack at big-budget in-house animation, also put up a decent $123.3 million. Finally, Paranormal Activity 3 actually improved significantly on Paranormal Activity 2 with over $103 million. Including True Grit, that makes nine Paramount movies with over $100 million in 2011. That's the most ever in one year for a studio, topping Paramount 2010 and Warner Bros. 2009, both of which had seven $100 million grossers.

Even outside of blockbuster territory, Paramount still fared extremely well in 2011. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never became the highest-grossing concert movie ever with $73 million, while No Strings Attached beat Friends with Benefits to win the battle of the 2011 sex buddy comedies with $70.7 million. Even Footloose, which started slow, wound up topping $50 million, and a similar destination seems likely for Martin Scorsese's Hugo.

Through Sunday, Paramount was $110 million ahead of Warner Bros. for the year. That's in part because of Paramount's above-average lineup but also because of Warner Bros. slower year. While the company has had monster hits like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($381 million) and The Hangover Part II ($254.5 million), it has also had a few major underperformers in Green Lantern ($116.6 million), Happy Feet Two ($43.8 million, or less than half its predecessor through the same point) and Sucker Punch ($36.4 million).

Warner Bros. does appear to have the stronger schedule through the end of the year, though. New Year's Eve (Dec. 9) should tap in to the holiday fever, while Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dec. 16) will likely play at least as well as its 2009 predecessor ($209 million). Paramount is no slouch either, though, with Young Adult (Dec. 9 limited, Dec. 16 expansion), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Dec. 16 in IMAX, Dec. 21 nationwide) and The Adventures of Tintin (Dec. 21), so closing a $110 million gap is going to be a formidable task for Warner Bros.

It is important to point out, of course, that reported theatrical revenue is only one component of the success of a company's theatrical distribution business. Paramount only took a distribution fee on Thor and Captain America, both of which are owned by Disney/Marvel, and Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, produced by DreamWorks Animation. That model serves to reduce risk but also cut in to profits, so there's no telling if the bottom line is better or worse off this year than in previous years.

Note: An earlier version of this story unintentionally omitted Paranormal Activity 3, which made a significant contribution with $103 million.

Related Stories:

'Transformers' Claims Independence Gross Record

'Thor' Thwacks It Within the Park

'Captain America' Rockets to the Top, 'Potter's Bubble Bursts

'Hangover' Gets Higher with Sequel, 'Panda' Loses Weight

'Puss' Purrs Softly

'Super 8' Checks In at Top Spot

'Rango' Moseys Into Top Spot

'Paranormal' Possesses Fall Record

'Just,' 'Justin,' 'Juliet' Jumpin'

'No Strings' Ties Up Top Spot

Related Charts

2011 Studio Market Share

2011 Paramount Grosses

2011 Warner Bros. Grosses