Universal Pictures said on Friday that its movies' ticket sales set a new record last year, when the entertainment industry as a whole began to feel the worst economic downturn in decades.
The studio reported global theatrical grosses totaling 2.8 billion dollars for 2008, including 1.12 billion in the U.S. and Canada, eclipsing the 2007 record of nearly 1.1 billion dollars.
Internationally, Universal saw a significant jump in box office revenues in 2008, with a total of 1.71 billion dollars, a 66-percent increase from the 1.03 billion dollars in the previous year.
"If 2007 was a turnaround year for Universal, 2008 proved our studio's ability to consistently deliver the highest quality commercial hits," Universal Chairman Marc Shmuger and Co-Chairman David Linde said in a statement.
All numbers are estimates, and final figures are expected on Monday.
Universal released four films that grossed more than 100 million dollars in the U.S. and Canada in 2008, including "The Incredible Hulk," "Wanted," "Mamma Mia!" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
"Mamma Mia!," a musical starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, was the studio's biggest earner of the year, making 144 million dollars domestically and 428.5 million dollars internationally.
The film is the highest grossing film ever in the United Kingdom, a record held previously by "Titanic." It was also the highest grossing film of 2008 in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Norway and Sweden.
Actresses (L-R) Julie Walters, Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski are shown in a scene from the film "Mamma Mia!" in this undated publicity photograph. [Photo: Xinhua/Reuters]
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