The returns for "The Queen" have been impressive for a movie of its kind, with nearly $36 million in ticket sales to date.

Even though it's still in limited release and has grossed only $9.9 million, foreign-language film nominee "Pan's Labyrinth" is on track to become the highest-grossing Spanish-language movie ever in the United States (a record held by 1993's "Like Water for Chocolate," with $21.7 million). Though not exactly a box-office sensation, "Babel" has still grossed $23.7 million.

"I hope it continues to go in that direction," said Mark Wahlberg, who was nominated for best supporting actor for "The Departed." "They had a lot of films that I wanted to see this year, and it hasn't been like that for a while. So it was certainly a beautiful change."

The Oscar nominations, and the box-office boost they generally bring, come at an especially good time for "Blood Diamond." The Warner Bros. picture premiered in London this week, the first international market in which it has opened. So far, the film has grossed about $50 million domestically.

Another Warner Bros. picture, "Letters From Iwo Jima" — director Clint Eastwood's take on the bloody World War II battle from the Japanese perspective — has grossed just $2.4 million domestically and $39.1 million worldwide. But the studio expects the Japanese-language film to gross more than $40 million in Japan alone.

It is against this backdrop that Warner Bros. aggressively pursues local projects in France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Japan: Audiences in those countries are increasingly buying tickets to films in their own languages, said Alan F. Horn, president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

"We have an increasing recognition and acceptance and even embracing of the reality that we are in a global business, and it is very important for us to make pictures as much as we can that appeal to an audience worldwide," he said. "Upwards of 50% of the box office in each of these respective countries is local-language projects. We want to participate in that."

*


john.horn@latimes.com

gina.piccalo@latimes.com



*

Begin text of infobox

Best picture

"Dreamgirls" received the most Oscar nods with eight but didn't get one for best picture. The best picture nominees:

Film Total nominations

"Babel" 7

"The Queen" 6

"The Departed" 5

"Letters From Iwo Jima" 4