Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

"Walt Disney Distribution" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Walt Disney Studios (division), Walt Disney Pictures, or Buena Vista (brand).
This article is about the film distribution company. For other uses, see Walt Disney Studios (disambiguation).
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Industry Motion pictures
Founded 1953 (1953)
Headquarters 500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California
, United States
Key people
Dave Hollis (Vice-president)[1]
Services Film distribution and marketing
Website Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (formerly Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and Buena Vista Film Distribution Company) is an American film distributor owned by The Walt Disney Company.[2] Established in 1953 as Buena Vista Film Distribution Company, the company handles distribution, marketing and promotion for films produced by the Walt Disney Studios, including Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Disneynature.[3] The division took on its current name in late 2007,[3] which before that had been Buena Vista Pictures Distribution since 1987.[4]


Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Before 1953, Walt Disney's productions were distributed by Columbia Pictures, United Artists and RKO Radio Pictures.[3] However, a dispute over the value of Disney's 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.[3] 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.[5] Notable subsequent releases include the foreign film, Yang Kwei Fei (Most Noble Lady), released in US theaters in September 1956,[6][7] The Missouri Traveler in March 1958,[5] and The Big Fisherman in July 1959 (the first third-party production financed by Disney).[5]

In April 1960, the company dropped "Film" from its name.[4] In 1961, Disney incorporated Buena Vista International (BVI),[8] distributing its first PG rated film, Take Down, in January 1979.[5] 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.[9] In July 1987, Buena Vista changed its name to Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (BVPD).[4]

Late in the 1980s, Disney purchased a controlling stake in one of Pacific Theatres' chain[10] leading to Disney's Buena Vista Theaters and Pacific to renovate the El Capitan Theatre and the Crest by 1989.[11] The Crest was finished first while El Capitan opened with the premiere of The Rocketeer film on June 19, 1991.[12]

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.[13] Soon, BVPD signed a 25 picture distribution deal with Cinergi.[14][15]

The Gaumont Film Company and Walt Disney formed Gaumont Buena Vista International, their joint venture French distribution company, in 1993.[16] In August 1996, Disney and Tokuma Shoten Publishing agreed that Disney would distribute internationally Studio Ghibli animated films.[17] In September 1996, following Disney's acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. was merged[4] into ABC, Inc.,[18] the parent company of that group.

For the November 1995 Toy Story premiere, 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.[19] In July 1998, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution purchased the Hollywood Masonic Temple building to continue using it as a promotional venue.[20]

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' Cinergi share holdings, production advances of $35.4 million and other loans.[14][15]

In 2002, Disney signed a four animated film deal with Vanguard Animation,[21] however, only one film was released under that negotiation.[22]

Since 2004, BVI and Gaumont dissolved their French distribution joint venture, Gaumont Buena Vista International.[16] Buena Vista International agreed to a distribution deal with MegaStar Joint Venture Company Limited in April 2006 for the Vietnam market.[23]

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In April 2007, Disney discontinued using the Buena Vista brand in its distribution branding.[3] 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.[24] The distribution deal ended in 2016, after DreamWorks and Disney decided to not renew their agreement in December 2015, with Universal replacing Disney as DreamWorks' distributor.[25][26] By the end of the deal, Disney had distributed 14 of DreamWorks' original 30-picture agreement.[27][28] Disney will retain the distribution rights for these DreamWorks films in perpetuity.[29]


Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has released the most films that have crossed the $1-billion-mark (twelve, in worldwide grosses)[30] among major Hollywood studios, with nine of the twenty highest-grossing films of all time being distributed by Disney.[31] 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).[32][33][34] Furthermore, Disney is the only studio that has achieved this four times, in 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Four of the top five highest-grossing animated films have been released by Disney, as well as sixteen of the twenty highest-grossing G-rated films.[35] In addition, four of the top-five opening weekends were Disney releases.[36] In 2015, Disney achieved its largest yearly box-office gross worldwide and in North America.[37][38] In 2016, Disney surpassed $6 billion in worldwide yearly box-office gross, surpassing the previous 2015 record.[39]

In its 62-year history, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has distributed 27 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, and fifteen from Miramax. 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).[40]

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[41] Active distribution deals Formerly distributed

International arrangements

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International was formed in 1961 as Buena Vista International, which is the owner of Disney Channel Asia.[5] In 1992, Disney opted to end a previous joint venture with Warner Bros., that began in 1988 to distribute their films in overseas markets (UK, Ireland, Benelux & Scandinavia). 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. Distribution rights in West Germany were given to MGM (under CIC in the early 1970s) and later to 20th Century Fox before the Warner Bros. joint venture. In Russia and CIS, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Singapore and the Philippines, Disney films had been distributed in a joint venture with Sony Pictures Entertainment.[51] In Japan, distribution rights are handled in partnership with Toho.

Other international distributors

Highest-grossing films

Highest-grossing films in North America
Rank Title Year Studio label Box office gross
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 Lucasfilm $936,662,225
2 The Avengers 2012 Marvel $623,357,910
3 Finding Dory 2016 Disney/Pixar $486,293,573
4 Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 Marvel $459,005,868
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 Disney $423,315,812
6 The Lion King 1994 Disney $422,783,777
7 Toy Story 3 2010 Disney/Pixar $415,004,880
8 Iron Man 3 2013 Marvel $409,013,994
9 Captain America: Civil War 2016 Marvel $408,084,349
10 Frozen 2013 Disney $400,738,009
11 Finding Nemo 2003 Disney/Pixar $380,843,261
12 The Jungle Book 2016 Disney $364,001,123
13 Inside Out 2015 Disney/Pixar $356,461,711
14 Zootopia 2016 Disney $341,268,248
15 Alice in Wonderland 2010 Disney $334,191,110
16 Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 Marvel $333,176,600
17 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 Disney $309,420,425
18 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 Disney $305,413,918
19 The Sixth Sense 1999 Hollywood $293,506,292
20 Up 2009 Disney/Pixar $293,004,164
21 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 Disney $291,710,957
22 Monsters, Inc. 2001 Disney/Pixar $289,916,256
23 Toy Story 2 1999 Disney/Pixar $276,554,625
24 Monsters University 2013 Disney/Pixar $268,492,764
25 The Incredibles 2004 Disney/Pixar $261,441,092
Highest-grossing films worldwide
Rank Title Year Studio label Box office gross
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 Lucasfilm $2,068,178,225
2 The Avengers 2012 Marvel $1,519,557,910
3 Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 Marvel $1,405,805,868
4 Frozen 2013 Disney $1,279,852,693
5 Iron Man 3 2013 Marvel $1,215,439,994
6 Captain America: Civil War 2016 Marvel $1,153,294,011
7 Toy Story 3 2010 Disney/Pixar $1,066,969,703
8 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 Disney $1,066,179,725
9 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 Disney $1,045,713,802
10 Finding Dory 2016 Disney/Pixar $1,026,948,582
11 Alice in Wonderland 2010 Disney $1,025,467,110
12 Zootopia 2016 Disney $1,023,772,429
13 The Lion King 1994 Disney $968,483,777
14 The Jungle Book 2016 Disney $966,539,134
15 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 Disney $963,420,425
16 Finding Nemo 2003 Disney/Pixar $940,335,536
17 Inside Out 2015 Disney/Pixar $857,427,711
18 Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 Marvel $774,176,600
19 Maleficent 2014 Disney $758,410,378
20 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 Disney $745,013,115
21 Monsters University 2013 Disney/Pixar $744,229,437
22 Up 2009 Disney/Pixar $735,099,082
23 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014 Marvel $714,766,572
24 The Sixth Sense 1999 Hollywood $672,806,292
25 Big Hero 6 2014 Disney $657,827,828

—Includes theatrical reissue(s).


  1. ^ Disney retains all the distribution rights to these 14 DreamWorks films in perpetuity.[52]
  2. ^ Although GKIDS acquired the theatrical distribution rights to Studio Ghibli's films from Disney in 2014, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment continues to retain the home media distribution rights to 13 Ghibli films.[53][54]

See also


  1. Toumarkine, Doris (June 21, 2013). "Global recognition: Dave Hollis brings Disney brands to a world audience". Film Journal International. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  2. "Company Overview of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Inc.". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 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.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "BUENA VISTA PICTURES DISTRIBTUTION, INC.". Entity Information. New York State Department of State. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 The Disney Studio Story, by Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley, 1988.
  6. Screen World 1957, Volume 8, by Daniel Blum, 1957. Page 218.
  7. International Motion Picture Almanac 1977, by Richard Gertner, 1977. Page 411.
  8. Disney A to Z - The Official Encyclopedia, by Dave Smith, 1996. Page 71.
  9. (July 28, 1980). "Disney plans show for 'older' viewers". Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  10. Aberdeen, J. A. (2005). Hollywood Renegades: The Movie Theater Chains of the Media Giants. Cobblestone Entertainment. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  11. Ridenour, Al (May 2, 2002). "A Chamber of Secrets". Los Angelest Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  12. Fox, David J. (June 19, 1991). "At Age 65, the El Capitan Gets a Major Face Lift". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  13. Bates, James (May 3, 1994). "Company Town : Cinergi Hopes To Raise $35 Million in Stock Offering". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Peers, Martin; Busch, Anita M.; Fleming, Michael; Weiner, Rex (March 20, 1997). "Mouse House will absorb Cinergi". Variety. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  15. 1 2 3 "Beleaguered Cinergi Pictures OKs Management Buyout". Los Angeles Times. AP. September 5, 1997. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  16. 1 2 "Columbia TriStar forges Gaumont deal for France.". Hollywood Reporter. February 3, 2004. Retrieved September 11, 2015 via Highbeam Business.
  17. "August Issue News Section:Disney Will Distribute Japanese Animation". Animation World Magazine. August 1996. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  18. "ABC, INC. Burbank, CA Wysk Company Profile". Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  19. Kronke, David (November 21, 1995). "After 'Toy Story' Credits Roll, the Fun Comes Alive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  20. Fulmer, Melinda (July 17, 1998). "Disney Unit Buys Historic Masonic Temple". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  21. 1 2 Verrier, Richard; Claudia Eller (September 29, 2003). "Disney Pushed Toward Digital". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  22. Kay, Jeremy (23 July 2003). "DPS buys into Vanguard Animation, forms co-production giant". Screen Daily. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  23. "Disney's BVITV-AP brings 'Toon Disney' block to Vietnam". Indiantelevision.com. February 1, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  24. 1 2 Graser, Marc (9 February 2009). "Disney signs deal with DreamWorks". Variety. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  25. Lang, Brent (December 16, 2015). "Steven Spielberg, Jeff Skoll Bring Amblin Partners to Universal". Variety. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  26. Busch, Anita (December 16, 2015). "It's Official: Spielberg, DreamWorks, Participant, eOne, Others Pact For Amblin Partners". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  27. 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.
  28. "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.
  29. Rainey, James (December 30, 2015). "Steven Spielberg Puts His Own Big Bucks Into the New Amblin Partners (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  30. McClintock, Pamela (June 5, 2016). "Box-Office Milestone: 'Zootopia' Zooms Past $1B Worldwide". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  31. "All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  32. "'Toy Story 3' Reaches $1 Billion". Box Office Mojo. August 29, 2010. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  33. "Around-the-World Roundup: 'Avengers' Reaches $1 Billion Worldwide". Box Office Mojo. May 13, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  34. "Universal Crosses $3 Billion at the Worldwide Box Office". GeekNation.
  35. "DOMESTIC GROSSES BY MPAA RATING". Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  36. Mendelson, Scott (December 21, 2015). "'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Box Office: $248M Opening Weekend, $529M Worldwide". Forbes. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  37. 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.
  38. McNary, Dave (December 26, 2015). "'Star Wars' Lifts Disney to $2 Billion at 2015 U.S. Box Office". Variety. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  39. Tartaglione, Nancy (November 6, 2016). "Disney Crosses $6B At Global Box Office; First Time In Studio's History". Deadline.com. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  40. Hammond, Pete (July 1, 2015). "Oscars Halftime Report: Can Animated 'Inside Out' Turn Best Picture Race Upside Down?". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
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  42. Kit, Borys (16 August 2012). "'The Muppets' Producer Mandeville Re-Ups With Disney (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  43. Graser, Marc (6 November 2011). "Disney reups Mayhem Pictures deal". Variety. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  44. "Disney Sets Rob Marshall To Direct Adaptation Of 'Into The Woods'". Deadline Hollywood. January 11, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. Miller, Daniel (19 September 2013). "Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer to end longtime partnership". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
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  51. Disney, Sony team up for Russian content, The Hollywood Reporter, December 27, 2006.
  52. 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.
  53. Marechal, AJ (September 7, 2011). "GKids to release Miyazaki toons in U.S.". Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
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External links

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