It has long been a truism that during economic downturns, people gravitate towards the movies as a relatively cheap form of escapism from their troubles. Just ask Warner Bros.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is estimating a record haul in 2009, with a worldwide box office total of $3.99 billion. That amount includes $2.13 billion domestically, which far exceeds their own previous record of $1.79 billion from last year, while the overall total also sets a new industry benchmark. It has long been a truism that during economic downturns, people gravitate towards the movies as a relatively cheap form of escapism from their troubles. Just ask Warner Bros.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is estimating a record haul in 2009, with a worldwide box office total of $3.99 billion. That amount includes $2.13 billion domestically, which far exceeds their own previous record of $1.79 billion from last year, while the overall total also sets a new industry benchmark.

Needless to say, executives at Warner Bros. were pleased. "We're really proud of this achievement," Warner Bros. film president Jeff Robinov said, "and it was only possible through the combined efforts of an incredibly talented group of people."

The massive rake comes in part thanks to the studio placing three films among the year's top 10 earners. Major Warner Bros. hits this year include:

'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince': The sixth installment of J. K. Rowling's fantasy epic accounts for nearly a quarter of the studio's earnings, with an impressive $939 million grossed worldwide. That helps explain why Warner Bros. has decided to produce not one, but two films based on the final book in the series, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.'

'The Hangover': This R-rated ensemble piece about a Las Vegas bachelor party gone seriously awry was the biggest surprise of the year, riding strong word of mouth to a stellar $459 million worldwide gross. What happens in Vegas apparently makes for big box office.

'The Blind Side': Topping off a career year for star Sandra Bullock, this feel-good sports movie managed to successfully appeal to every demographic, bringing in $184 million domestically so far to help Warner Bros. end the year with a strong holiday slate.

'Terminator Salvation': The latest reboot of the classic sci-fi franchise was considered a bust here in America, grossing just $125 million. Overseas, however, proved to be a different story: The film's $246 foreign box office helped propel it to a successful $372 million total.

As 'Terminator Salvation' shows, even the studio's missteps have turned out to be minor; big-budget productions such as 'Watchmen' and 'Where the Wild Things Are,' while not the blockbusters many predicted, have managed to turn a profit or at least break even. And the studio's New Line slate of genre pieces such as 'The Final Destination' and 'Friday the 13th,' while not massive hits, boosted the total with solid returns.

Warner Bros. was also aided, of course, by the fact that it simply released far more major movies than any other studio. Paramount, for instance, released only 12 movies this year, less than half the number of Warner Bros., but still brought in an impressive $2.8 billion thanks to top 10 hits such as 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' 'Star Trek' and 'Monsters vs. Aliens.' And Sony, Disney and 20th Century Fox each managed to break the $1 billion domestic mark as well this year, with only Sony failing to score a top 10 hit.
CATEGORIES Movies