Showbiz Stock Watch: Paramount Likely Surpasses $1 Billion in Domestic Sales

Last weekend, Paramount Pictures International confirmed that it blew past the $1 Bbllion mark in international sales for 2008, reaching that benchmark six weeks faster than in 2007. Now, based on this weekend’s estimates (June 20-22), it appears that Paramount has surpassed $1 billion in domestic ticket sales.

Despite the failure of Mike MyersLove Guru, which managed only an estimated $14M this weekend, Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda added a likely $21.7M, Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull generated about $8.4M and Iron Man picked up another $4M. That should be just enough to push the Melrose gang past the billion dollar mark.

Last year was a remarkable year for Paramount Pictures. Fueled by lucrative titles, many from the pipeline of Dreamworks, the studio reached $1 billion in domestic box office for the 2007 on July 9, earlier than any distributor ever surpassed that threshold. That amazing run was led by Shrek the Third, Transformers, Blades of Glory, NorbitDisturbia and Dreamgirls, which were all products of the Spielberg-Katzenberg-Geffen triumvirate. 

Kung Fu Panda will assure Paramount of its third consecutive $200 million grossing film, a record in itself, and now the studio has likely reached $1 billion domestic 17 days earlier than 2007.

Last year, Paramount led all Hollywood studios with $1.49 billion in domestic box office, but their second half was riddled with under-performing titles like Stardust ($38.6 million cume), Hot Rod ($13.9 million cume), The Heartbreak Kid ($36.7 million), Things We Lost in the Fire ($3.2 million cume) and Beowulf ($82.2 million cume).

Still set for release in 2008 for Paramount are the much buzzed-about Tropic Thunder in August, Disturbia director D.J. Caruso‘s reteaming with Shia LaBeouf in Eagle Eye in September, Dreamworks’s Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa in November and David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in December. With a lineup like that, Paramount has a virtual stranglehold on the market share title for a second consecutive year.