Buena Vista Hits A Billion

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, the releasing company for Walt Disney, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures, saw collective grosses exceed $1 billion Dec. 29. It marks the first time that a distributor’s release slate has generated in excess of 9 figures for the calendar year.

Official numbers through Dec. 28 pegged the company’s 1994 cumulative take at $997.9 million. By the time the champagne corks pop, its figure for the full year should chime in at roughly $1.01 billion.

Most of Buena Vista’s box office year was dominated by “The Lion King,” which became the company’s all-time domestic box office champ and fifth biggest film of all time in the North American market. It will finish the year with a cume of slightly more than $298 million, likely nosing slightly ahead of Paramount’s “Forrest Gump” to become the year’s top individual title.

During the calendar year, Variety tracked 35 Buena Vista releases, including 29 films which debuted post-Jan. 1. A year ago, BV titles generated a cume of $828.6 million and the company posted its prior top dollar year in 1992 when the annual collective cume was $874.2 million. In both instances, the company was second in market share to Warner Bros.

The blockbuster success of “The Lion King” combined with early hot returns from “The Santa Clause” account for roughly 42% of B V’s domestic gross.

However, the vast majority of its releases wound up with fair to poor box office returns. Its most conspicuous misfires included the pricey Julia Roberts-Nick Nolte pairing in “I Love Trouble.”

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