Sony Int'l, BVI join forces to output product in Korea


Sony Pictures Releasing International and Buena Vista International, Inc. have formed a joint venture to distribute their respective films as well as locally produced product in Korea.

The move comes at a time when boxoffice revenues in the important Asian market are on a steady increase. Both companies underlined that the principal reasons for the move arise out of a desire to streamline their respective efficiencies in the market. The move allows both SPRI and BVI to combine respective operations into one unified office.

The new initiative, which goes into effect Nov. 30, was announced Tuesday by Paul Smith, president worldwide operations, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group and Mark Zoradi, president, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.

A statement from both companies noted that the move reflects the strong relationship SPRI and BVI have abroad with distribution joint ventures in such countries as Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This summer, SPRI tapped BVI to distribute Sony's films in Norway, Finland and Denmark beginning January, which expands the cooperation between the studios in Switzerland, India and Taiwan.

"We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the BVI distribution team for many years," said Smith in a statement. "This new joint venture will continue our solid international partnership." Zoradi echoed, "We are thrilled to be expanding our partnership with Sony and know our combined slate of films will bring us to new boxoffice highs in Korea."

Upcoming films for the new office will include high profile titles such as "Spider-Man 3," Jerry Bruckheimer's "Deja Vu," "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End," Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille," "Meet the Robinsons" and "Enchanted," as well as Sony Pictures Animation's "Open Season, "Casino Royale," "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Ghost Rider."

Total boxoffice revenue in Korea has grown each year since 1995, except for a dip in 1999, from $159.6 to $384.8 million in 2005. However, the market share for foreign films in Korea has declined to 41% in 2005 from 76.6% in 1995 (HR 9/29).