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Fox Studios Post Record Q1 Operating Income

4 Nov, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Hollywood continued to buck ongoing recessionary trends as News Corp.’s filmed-entertainment division reported its highest-ever first-quarter (ended Sept. 30) operating income.

News Corp.’s filmed-entertainment unit, which includes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, generated $391 million in operating income, up 56% from operating income of $251 million during the comparable period the previous year.

The increase was driven by the worldwide theatrical success of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which is the highest international-grossing (non-domestic) animated film of all time and the third-highest international-grossing ever, having generated $878.6 million in worldwide box-office receipts to date, with $682.2 million of that generated by foreign markets.

The studios expect the third Ice Age movie — released Oct. 27 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc — to be a significant home entertainment revenue driver through the end of the year. 

First-quarter film results also include the worldwide home entertainment performance of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the home entertainment and pay-TV (VOD) performance of Taken.

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said the studio has high hopes for the James Cameron’s 3D theatrical release Avatar, which bows Dec. 18.

Studio revenue toped $1.5 billion, compared to $1.2 billion last year.

“Operating income growth [underscored] renewed momentum at our filmed-entertainment segment, reflecting our strong slate of films at the global box office,” Murdoch said.

That said, Chase Carey, president and COO, said physical media continues to mature and is in decline. He lauded Blu-ray and VOD as important growth opportunities for home entertainment with immediate focus on the high-definition packaged-media format.

Carey said there would be further downward pressure on the number of theatrical releases going forward.

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