BVI, Sony team for Russia output

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Eyeing the burgeoning moviegoing audience in Russia, Buena Vista International and Sony Pictures Releasing International have formed a joint venture to distribute their respective films in the country. Mark Zoradi, president of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and Paul Smith, president of worldwide operations at Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, announced the pact Monday.

The Russia venture, which begins Jan. 1, represents the 15th territory in which the international distributors have worked together as partners. The studios also have distribution joint ventures in Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In the summer, SPRI also tapped BVI to distribute Sony's films in Norway, Finland and Denmark beginning in January. BVI and Sony also work together in Switzerland, India and Taiwan, among other countries.

"The size, importance and growth of the Russian market have made it essential for us to create our own organization and to be actively involved in the sales and marketing of each title," Zoradi said. For the past eight years, BVI distributed its films in Russia through Cascade.

"Russia is emerging as one of the fastest-growing motion picture markets in the world," Smith said. Cascade also had distributed films for Sony.

The new distribution venture will handle such upcoming titles as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Spider-Man 3," "Ratatouille," "Enchanted," "The Pursuit of Happyness," "Surf's Up" and "Ghost Rider," among others.
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