Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is an American film distributor owned by The Walt Disney Company. It handles theatrical distribution, marketing and promotion for films produced and released by the Walt Disney Studios, including Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures and Blue Sky Studios.
|Founded||June 23, 1953|
|Founder||Roy O. Disney|
|Headquarters||500 S. Buena Vista Street, |
|Services||Film distribution and marketing|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Studios|
The company was originally established in 1953 as Buena Vista Film Distribution Company, Inc. (later renamed to Buena Vista Distribution Company, Inc. and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.) It took on its current name in 2007.
Buena Vista era
Before 1953, Walt Disney's productions were distributed by Winkler Pictures, Powers Pictures, Universal Pictures (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts), Columbia Pictures (1930–1932), United Artists (1932–1937) and RKO Radio Pictures (1937–1953). However, a dispute over the distribution of Disney's first full-length movie, The Living Desert, in the True-Life Adventures series of live-action documentary featurettes in 1953 led to Walt and his older brother Roy O. Disney to form its wholly owned subsidiary, the Buena Vista Film Distribution Company, Inc. (BVDC), to handle North American distribution of their own products. RKO refused to distribute the film. The name "Buena Vista" came from the street in Burbank, California, where the Disney Studios was located (and remains to this day). Buena Vista's first release was the Academy Award–winning live-action feature The Living Desert on November 10, 1953, along with Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, Buena Vista's first animated release. Notable subsequent releases include the foreign film, Princess Yang Kwei-Fei (Most Noble Lady), released in US theaters in September 1956, The Missouri Traveler in March 1958, and The Big Fisherman in July 1959 (the first third-party production financed by Disney).
By July 5, 1957, RKO Japan, Ltd. was sold to Disney Productions and British Commonwealth Film Corporation. In allocating the foreign film licenses to the company, Disney would use 5 and Commonwealth 8.
In April 1960, the company dropped "Film" from its name. In 1961, Disney incorporated Buena Vista International (BVI), distributing its first PG rated film, Take Down, in January 1979. The low-budget movie was not produced by the Disney studios and was acquired from an independent studio, making The Black Hole the first PG-rated Disney film. In July 1987, Buena Vista changed its name to Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (BVPD).
Late in the 1980s, Disney purchased a controlling stake in one of Pacific Theatres' chain leading to Disney's Buena Vista Theaters and Pacific to renovate the El Capitan Theatre and the Crest by 1989. The Crest was finished first while El Capitan opened with the premiere of The Rocketeer film on June 19, 1991.
In 1992, Buena Vista made production loans totaling $5.6 million to Cinergi Pictures for its film Medicine Man and its 1994 films Renaissance Man and Color of Night and were distributing Cinergi's films. The corporation purchased a 12.8% share in Cinergi with its initial public offering in 1994. Soon, BVPD signed a 25 picture distribution deal with Cinergi.
The Gaumont Film Company and Disney formed Gaumont Buena Vista International, a joint venture in French distribution, in 1993. In August 1996, Disney and Tokuma Shoten Publishing agreed that Disney would distribute internationally Studio Ghibli animated films. In September 1996, following Disney's acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. was merged into ABC, Inc., the parent company of that group.
For the November 1995 premiere of Toy Story, Disney rented the Hollywood Masonic Temple — adjacent to the El Capitan Theatre — for Totally Toy Story, a multimedia funhouse and a promotional event for the movie. In July 1998, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution purchased the Hollywood Masonic Temple building to continue using it as a promotional venue.
By 1997, BVPD's share in Cinergi dropped to 5%. After nine films were delivered under the agreement, Cinergi sold Disney on November 22, 1997 all of its 12 film library except for Die Hard with a Vengeance plus $20 million in exchange for Disney's Cinergi share holdings, production advances of $35.4 million and other loans. In 2002, Disney signed a four animated film deal with Vanguard Animation, however, only one film was released under that negotiation.
In 2004, BVI and Gaumont dissolved their French distribution joint venture, Gaumont Buena Vista International. Buena Vista International agreed to a distribution deal with MegaStar Joint Venture Company Limited in April 2006 for the Vietnam market.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In April 2007, Disney discontinued the usage of the Buena Vista brand in its distribution branding. In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired UTV Motion Pictures through UTV Software Communications. Since then, UTV Motion Pictures became the exclusive distributor for all Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures releases for the South Asian market from 2013 onward.
In 2009, Disney entered a distribution agreement with a reorganized DreamWorks; the deal called for an estimated 30 films over a five-year period from DreamWorks and they would be released through the Touchstone Pictures label. The distribution deal ended in 2016, after DreamWorks and Disney decided to not renew their agreement in December 2015, with Universal Pictures replacing Disney as DreamWorks' distributor. By the end of the deal, Disney had distributed 14 of DreamWorks's original 30-picture agreement. Disney took complete ownership rights of those 14 DreamWorks films from Amblin Partners in exchange for loans made to that company. The Light Between Oceans, the final film in that distribution deal, was also the last film released under the Touchstone banner before it was retired by Disney from theatrical distribution.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has distributed 28 films that have received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture; four from Walt Disney Pictures, six from Touchstone Pictures, two from Hollywood Pictures, one from Marvel Studios, and fifteen from Miramax Films. Of those nominations, four Miramax films won the accolade; The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare In Love (1998), Chicago (2002), and No Country for Old Men (2007).
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures currently distributes films from Walt Disney Studios, other Disney film units and some third-party studios including:
|Walt Disney Studios||Active distribution deals||Former distribution deals|
Other Disney units
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International was formed in 1961 as Buena Vista International. On May 4, 1987, Disney signed a theatrical distribution agreement with Warner Bros. International for the release of Disney and Touchstone films in overseas markets, with Disney retaining full control of all distribution and marketing decisions on their product. Warner previously had overseas distribution partnership with Columbia Pictures, but it was dissolved in 1988. In 1992, Disney opted to end their joint venture with Warner Bros. to start autonomously distributing their films in the aforementioned overseas markets. In those territories from 1993–2007, Disney reactivated the Buena Vista International name, and also sent distribution under it in countries that did not have any current arrangements with other companies.
In Taiwan, MGM first handled Disney's distribution followed by Fox and WB. A local distributor called Era Communications took over distribution from 1992 to 1995. At that time, Buena Vista began its Taiwanese operations. Columbia ended its joint distribution unit with Fox and switch to Buena Vista in 1999.
Disney and Sony Pictures Entertainment formed in 1997 a film distribution joint venture in Southeast Asia. By December 2006, 14 joint distribution ventures with Sony Pictures Releasing International were formed and exist in countries including Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. In January 2007, their 15th such partnership began operations in Russia and CIS. In February 2017, Sony starting leaving the Southeast Asia venture with the Philippines. In August 2017, Sony terminated the joint venture agreement for their own operations. On January 31, 2019, in anticipation of the then-pending acquisition of the most 21st Century Fox assets (which includes 20th Century Fox), Disney agreed to sell its stake in the Mexican joint venture named Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing de México to Sony Pictures Releasing.
In October 2017, it was announced that Disney would be handling international distribution of M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, released in 2019, through the Buena Vista International banner. The film is a sequel to his earlier films Unbreakable (distributed by Touchstone) and Split (distributed by Universal Pictures). Through an arrangement made with Disney, Universal will retain domestic rights to the film, while Disney will distribute in international territories under the label. The UK-produced film Patrick was also released in 2018 by Disney under the Buena Vista International label in the UK.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has released the most films that have crossed the $1 billion mark (twenty-three, in worldwide grosses among major Hollywood studios, with twelve of the twenty highest-grossing films of all time being distributed by Disney. These include the highest-grossing film worldwide (Avengers: Endgame) and in North America (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  Of those twelve films, three of them have crossed the $2 billion mark in worldwide grosses, the most for any studio. In addition, Disney is the first of only three studios that have released at least two billion-dollar films in the same year (the others being Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures). Furthermore, Disney is the only studio that has achieved this seven times, in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019- 2016 of which included four $1 billion releases, and 2019 in which included five $1 billion releases, a record for any studio. Seven of the top ten highest-grossing animated films have been released by Disney, as well as sixteen of the twenty highest-grossing G-rated films. In addition, four of the top-five opening weekends were Disney releases. In 2015, Disney achieved its largest yearly box-office gross worldwide and in North America. In 2016, Disney surpassed $7 billion in worldwide yearly box-office gross—the first of any major studio—surpassing the previous 2015 record. In 2019, Disney became the first studio ever to have five releases to cross $1 billion each in a single year. 
‡—Includes theatrical reissue(s).
- Busch, Anita. "Disney Exec Reorg: Asad Ayaz Named President Of Marketing As Ricky Strauss Moves To President For Studio's New SVOD Service". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
- "Company Overview of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Inc". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- Fixmer, Andy (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say (Update1)". bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- "Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, INC". Entity Information. New York State Department of State. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Collins, Keith (October 26, 2003). "Disney timeline". Variety. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- The Disney Studio Story, by Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley, 1988.
- Screen World 1957, Volume 8, by Daniel Blum, 1957. Page 218.
- International Motion Picture Almanac 1977, by Richard Gertner, 1977. Page 411.
- Crowther, Bosley (September 11, 1956). "Screen: Chinese Legend; 'Yang Kwei Fei,' Movie From Japan, Opens". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
YANG KWEI FEI... released by Buena Vista Films.
- "Disney, British Firm Co-Own RKO Japan, Ltd". Motion Picture Daily (Vol. 86 No. 3). Quigley Publishing Company, inc. July 6, 1957. pp. 1, 6. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
- Disney A to Z - The Official Encyclopedia, by Dave Smith, 1996. Page 71.
-  (July 28, 1980). "Disney plans show for 'older' viewers". Retrieved February 21, 2016.
- Aberdeen, J. A. (2005). Hollywood Renegades: The Movie Theater Chains of the Media Giants. Cobblestone Entertainment. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
- Ridenour, Al (May 2, 2002). "A Chamber of Secrets". Los Angelest Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
- Fox, David J. (June 19, 1991). "At Age 65, the El Capitan Gets a Major Face Lift". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- Bates, James (May 3, 1994). "Company Town : Cinergi Hopes To Raise $35 Million in Stock Offering". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
- Peers, Martin; Busch, Anita M.; Fleming, Michael; Weiner, Rex (March 20, 1997). "Mouse House will absorb Cinergi". Variety. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
- "Beleaguered Cinergi Pictures OKs Management Buyout". Los Angeles Times. AP. September 5, 1997. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
- "Columbia TriStar forges Gaumont deal for France". Hollywood Reporter. February 3, 2004. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2015 – via Highbeam Business.
- "August Issue News Section:Disney Will Distribute Japanese Animation". Animation World Magazine. August 1996. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "ABC, INC. Burbank, CA Wysk Company Profile". Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Kronke, David (November 21, 1995). "After 'Toy Story' Credits Roll, the Fun Comes Alive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- Fulmer, Melinda (July 17, 1998). "Disney Unit Buys Historic Masonic Temple". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- Verrier, Richard; Claudia Eller (September 29, 2003). "Disney Pushed Toward Digital". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
- Kay, Jeremy (July 23, 2003). "DPS buys into Vanguard Animation, forms co-production giant". Screen Daily. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- "Disney's BVITV-AP brings 'Toon Disney' block to Vietnam". Indiantelevision.com. February 1, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "Disney Acquires Controlling Stake in India's UTV". The Hollywood Reporter. February 1, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
- Graser, Marc (February 9, 2009). "Disney signs deal with DreamWorks". Variety. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Lang, Brent (December 16, 2015). "Steven Spielberg, Jeff Skoll Bring Amblin Partners to Universal". Variety. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Busch, Anita (December 16, 2015). "It's Official: Spielberg, DreamWorks, Participant, eOne, Others Pact For Amblin Partners". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Pamela McClintock; Gregg Kilday (December 16, 2015). "Steven Spielberg, Jeff Skoll Team to Form Amblin Partners, Strike Distribution Deal With Universal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- "DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One Form Amblin Partners, a New Film, Television and Digital Content Creation Company" (Press release). Business Wire. Universal City, California. December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
Film projects in various stages of production include: 'The BFG', and 'The Light Between Oceans', scheduled for release by Disney in 2016.
- Rainey, James (December 30, 2015). "Steven Spielberg Puts His Own Big Bucks Into the New Amblin Partners (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Hipes, Patrick (March 21, 2019). "After Trying Day, Disney Sets Film Leadership Lineup". Deadline. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
Fox Animation (including Blue Sky Studios) will continue to be led by Co-Presidents Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird.
- Mendelson, Scott (January 22, 2019). "'Black Panther' Best Picture Nod Has Given Disney A Huge Oscar Season Win". Forbes. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
- Hammond, Pete (July 1, 2015). "Oscars Halftime Report: Can Animated 'Inside Out' Turn Best Picture Race Upside Down?". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- "About The Walt Disney Studios". The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Kit, Borys (August 16, 2012). "'The Muppets' Producer Mandeville Re-Ups With Disney (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Graser, Marc (November 6, 2011). "Disney reups Mayhem Pictures deal". Variety. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Fernandez, Jay A.; Borys Kit; Pamela McClintock (October 27, 2011). "The State of the Studio Deals: Who's Doing What Where". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
- Masters, Kim (September 2, 2015). "Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks to Split From Disney, in Talks With Universal (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- Miller, Daniel (September 19, 2013). "Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer to end longtime partnership". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Kay, Jeremy (December 13, 2002). "Beacon's back: Bernstein signs five-year deal at Disney | News | Screen". M.screendaily.com. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
- Carl DiOrio,Cathy Dunkley (October 29, 2003). "$250 million will light Beacon's prod'n slate – Variety". Variety.com. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
- "Disney, Stan Lee sign production deal". Hollywood Reporter. Reuters. June 6, 2007. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Disney Expands Ties With Stan Lee". ICV2.com. January 3, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
- "FORM 10-Q Quarterly Report 6/30/2014". OTC Markets. POW! ENTERTAINMENT, INC. August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- Eller, Clauida (August 21, 1998). Spyglass Offers Disney Lower-Risk Deals. Los Angeles Times. Accessed on March 18, 2015.
- Eller, Claudia (May 23, 2000). "Spyglass Hopes for More Good 'Sense' in Future Projects". Los Angeles Times. p. C1. Retrieved May 12, 2010. (Alternate link.)
- Eller, Claudia (December 10, 2002). "Spyglass Signs Deal With DreamWorks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
- Variety Staff (December 14, 1999). "Deal makes 'Sense' – Variety". Variety.com. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
- "Warner Bros. and Disney have a distribution pact". Los Angeles Times. May 4, 1987. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
- Wang, Shujen (2003). Framing Piracy: Globalization and Film Distribution in Greater China. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 112,115. ISBN 9780742519800. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
- Frater, Patrick (August 14, 2017). "Sony Launches Its Own Theatrical Distributors in Southeast Asia". Variety. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
- Holdsworth, Nick (December 27, 2006). "Disney, Sony team up for Russian content". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
- "Clarification on Disney/Fox transaction" (PDF). Cofece. February 6, 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
- Mendelson, Scott (October 3, 2017). "M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' Is 'Split 2' For Universal And 'Unbreakable 2' For Disney". Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
- Tartaglione, Nancy (February 10, 2017). "The Exchange, Disney UK Sit Up For Mandie Fletcher Family Pic 'Patrick' – Berlin". Deadline. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
- "All Time Box Office Records". Box Office Mojo. July 21, 2019. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- "All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses". Box Office Mojo. July 21, 2019. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- "DOMESTIC GROSSES BY MPAA RATING". Retrieved November 11, 2009.
- Mendelson, Scott (December 21, 2015). "'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Box Office: $248M Opening Weekend, $529M Worldwide". Forbes. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Lang, Brent (December 21, 2015). "'Star Wars,' 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Push Disney Past $5 Billion Mark for First Time". Variety. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- McNary, Dave (December 26, 2015). "'Star Wars' Lifts Disney to $2 Billion at 2015 U.S. Box Office". Variety. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 3, 2017). "Disney Crosses $3 Billion At Domestic B.O., First Time Ever For Major Studio; Global Now At Industry Record Of $7.6B". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- D'Allesandro, Anthony (August 15, 2019). "Disney First Studio Ever To Have 5 Pics Cross $1 Billion In Single Year With 'Toy Story 4'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
- The North American theatrical rights to Studio Ghibli's film library were sold by Disney to GKIDS in 2011. Disney continued to distribute the existing films they owned on home media (as well as The Wind Rises) until 2017, when GKIDS purchased home media rights to Ghibli's library, excluding The Wind Rises. The rights to that movie will revert from Disney to GKIDS in 2020. Disney continues to distribute Studio Ghibli's film library in France, Taiwan (through Deltamac) and Japanese Home Media.