Buena Vista showcases new Italian operations

Buena Vista Intl. Inc. unveiled its new Italian operation yesterday. In Rome to cut the blue ribbon were William Mechanic, Walt Disney’s president of international theatrical and video, Mark Zoradi, Buena Vista Intl. president, and other brass.

Buena Vista’s transition to autonomous distribution of its product has been peaceful. When its five-year distrib deal with Warner Bros. Intl. expired at the end of last year, it set up offices in the Columbia TriStar building. “Not to have our own operation in key territories didn’t make sense,” remarked Mechanic. He said BVI was sharing Rome offices with Col TriStar to reduce “the costs of doing business.”

BVI leaves Paolo Ferrari’s Warner Bros. Italia with good feelings and full pockets: the Italian release of “Beauty and the Beast”–$ 24 million and still grossing–could break all records to outperform the all-time champ, “Johnny Stecchino.”

The first Buena Vista release will be “Sister Act,” due out Jan. 29. It will be followed by most of the 30-film Walt Disney-Touchstone-Hollywood Pictures slate. Italian auds will have to wait to see “Aladdin” until next Christmas, when “Sister Act 2” is also skedded.

The Buena Vista disco party last night went off without competition from Madonna. The rock star was supposed to have turned up at a rival Roman disco on her way to guest star on RAI-TV. An ear infection is said to have caused her to cancel her trip to Italy, much to her fans’ dismay. The only ones to take a bright view of things were RAI exex, reported earlier in the press to have been panic-stricken at the prospect of putting Madonna on live TV.

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