BVI enters Vietnam venture for distrib’n

Company plans to build at least five plexes in territory

Buena Vista Intl. has struck a theatrical releasing deal in Vietnam with new local company MegaStar.

Outfit, a joint venture of Ted Shugrue’s Envoy Media Partners and local publisher Phuong Nam Corp., kicks off with releases of “Eight Below” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” That will be followed by Pixar’s CG-animated “Cars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean 2 — Dead Man’s Chest.”

MegaStar last week opened the country’s first multiplex, an eight-screener with 1,100 seats in Hanoi. Company, which has raised capital of $25 million, has plans to build at least five plexes in the territory, which has 70 screens in operation and last year saw release of only 80 movies.

MegaStar-BVI operation will be headed by Lim Eng Hee in Vietnam, reporting to Gotham-based Bristol Media prexy Tony Manne.

“Vietnam is a very dynamic market that is experiencing tremendous growth,” said BVI prexy Mark Zoradi.

Mega Star struck a similar revenue-sharing distrib pact with United Intl. Pictures in April. First film going out under that deal will be “Mission: Impossible III” on 13 screens May 26.

Mouse House is making a wider push into Vietnam, which it sees as an untapped market with high growth potential. Disney has signed a licensing agreement with Eastern Media Products to sell toys, apparel and other consumer products into Vietnam.

Disney generated revenue of $1.4 billion in Asia last year, compared with $24.8 billion in North America and $5.2 billion in Europe.

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