Int'l arm uses new campaign to promote toon

After crossing $1 billion overseas for the eighth year in a row — a Hollywood record — Disney’s Buena Vista Intl. is facing another challenge: salvaging something from “Treasure Planet’s” domestic demise.

The international arm is using a new campaign, positioning the film more firmly as a fun-filled toon for family auds; it’s also dating “Treasure Planet” well away from Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in the U.K. and Japan — among the strongest markets for Disney animation.

“Planet” has grossed $16 million in its first bunch of foreign markets, performing especially well in France, and BVI president Mark Zoradi expects the pic to hit $80 million, which he’d rate as a success.

Compared with the domestic sell, the foreign campaign centers more on the secondary characters and plays up the humor. Pic’s slated for February in the U.K. and for July in Japan, where BVI hopes to take advantage of the absence of a local animated entry next summer from “Spirited Away” helmer Hayao Miyazaki.

BVI’s films crossed the $1 billion mark Sunday, driven chiefly by “Monsters, Inc.,” which earned $240 million this year of its lifetime $268.4 million; “Signs” ($172.8 million); and “Lilo & Stitch,” which just hit $100 million and will end its adventures in Japan next March. In total, BVI released 50 films that each grossed more than $1 million this year.

Collectively, the U.S. majors have crossed the $1 billion mark overseas 22 times. WB Intl. has done so five times, Fox Intl. four.

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