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Robert Mitchell, the former managing director of Walt Disney U.K., has died at the age of 56.

Mitchell started his career in the advertising industry, moving into film by joining Warner Bros. U.K. as an advertising director in 1983. He rose to become marketing director of Warner Bros.’ U.K. arm.

From 1986 to 1991, Mitchell worked at the influential Palace Pictures, where he was deputy managing director and marketing director.

He joined the then Buena Vista International U.K. (BVI) in 1992, rising to become senior vice president and managing director of Disney in the U.K.

Mitchell left Disney in 2009, later becoming a consultant to sales firm Intandem Films, before taking over as chief executive in 2013. He left in 2015, and became a consultant.

Film4 director John Battsek, who worked with Mitchell at both Palace Pictures and BVI, says: “Robert was a good friend and colleague over many years. I remember our time at Palace Pictures and BVI fondly and much of that is down to Robert’s boundless enthusiasm creating such an enjoyable work environment.

“He was a maverick for sure but that unorthodox approach was put to positive effect on a wide range of films. ‘Calendar Girls’ would never have achieved its success without Robert’s ability to spot and maximise box office potential. That skill and risk taking attitude was also enormously influential in building Pixar into an ‘all audience’ brand right from the get-go with the first ‘Toy Story.’

“Robert had an infectious passion and genuine honesty which everyone who worked alongside him has happy memories of. He and I shared a mutual respect and trust which I will always treasure.“

Mitchell was also an active member of the U.K.’s Film Distributors’ Assn.

Mitchell died of a heart attack. He is survived by his five children.