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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is an American motion picture distributor owned by The Walt Disney Company. Established in 1953 as Buena Vista Film Distribution, the company handles distribution for films produced by the Walt Disney Studios; including Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, 20th Century Studios, Disneynature, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Blue Sky Studios, and Lucasfilm.


Prior to 1953, Walt Disney Productions' short films and feature films were distributed by Celebrity Productions, Columbia Pictures, United Artists and RKO Radio Pictures. A dispute with RKO over the value of Disney's True-Life Adventures series of live-action documentary featurettes in 1953 led to Walt and his older brother Roy Oliver Disney to form its wholly owned subsidiary Buena Vista Film Distribution Company, Inc. (BVD) to handle the U.S. distribution of their own films. Despite this, RKO would continue to distribute some of Disney's theatrical shorts until 1956. Buena Vista's first release was the Academy Award winning live-action feature The Living Desert on November 10, 1953 along with Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, Buena Vista's first animated release. Notable subsequent releases include the foreign film, Yang Kwei Fei (Most Noble Lady), released in US theaters in September of 1956, The Missouri Traveler in March 1958, and The Big Fisherman in July 1959 (the first third-party production financed by Disney). In 1961, Disney incorporated Buena Vista International, distributing its first PG rated film Take Down in January 1979.

Other names for the division were Buena Vista Distribution Company, Inc. (April 1960-July 1987) and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (July 1987-April 2007).[1]

In April 2007, Disney dissolved the Buena Vista moniker in its distribution branding and re-branded itself as Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

On October 12, 2020, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the founding of Disney Media Distribution, as the result, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney Music Group, and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment are all transferred to this new division.[2]


Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is noteworthy for releasing 25 films that have surpassed the $1-billion-mark and 3 films of the $2-billion-mark in worldwide ticket sales:

Disney is the only major Hollywood studio that has released more than four films that have crossed the $1-billion-mark (in worldwide grosses). In addition, Disney is the first of only two studios to have released two $1-billion films in the same year (the other being Warner Bros.). The top three highest grossing animated films have been released by Disney (4 films if counted The Lion King). Seventeen of the twenty highest grossing G-rated films were also distributed by Disney. In 2012, Disney achieved its largest yearly box-office gross in North America.

The company distributes all features produced by The Walt Disney Studios except Searchlight Pictures (which operates its own distribution unit in the US only), other Disney film units and some third-parties including:

Current units

Former units

Active producer/distribution deals

  • Mandeville Films (1996–present)
  • Mayhem Pictures (2002–present)
  • Martin Chase Productions
  • Mark Gordon Co.
  • Junction Entertainment
  • Panay Films
  • POW! Entertainment
  • Regency Enterprises
    • New Regency Productions (20% minority stake)

Former producer deals

International arrangements[]

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International was formed in 1961 as Buena Vista International, Inc.[6], which is the owner of Disney Channel Asia.[7] In 1992, Disney opted to end a previous joint venture with Warner Bros., that began in 1988 to distribute their films in select overseas markets (UK, Ireland, Benelux, Scandinavia, Brazil among others). In those territories from 1993-2007, Disney reactivated the Buena Vista International name, and also sent distribution under it in countries that did not have any current arrangements with other companies. Distribution rights in West Germany were given to MGM (under CIC in the early 1970s) and later to 20th Century Fox before the Warner Bros. joint venture. In Russia and CIS, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Singapore and the Philippines, Disney films had been distributed in a joint venture with Sony Pictures Entertainment.[8]

Other international distributors

Note that in Japan, Disney combined both theatrical and home media distribution (include licensed feature films and stage play lives) under Walt Disney Japan (Japanese: ウォルト・ディズニー・ジャパン, as Walt Disney Studios Japan between 2010 and 2016) name since 2000.

Film franchises[]

Title Years
Mickey Mouse & Friends 1928–present
Fantasia 1940–2018
Bambi 1942–2006
Cinderella 1950–2007; 2015
Alice in Wonderland 1951–2016
Peter Pan 1953–present
Lady and the Tramp 1955–2019
The Shaggy Dog 1959–2006
Sleeping Beauty 1959–present
101 Dalmatians 1961–present
The Absent-Minded Professor 1961–1997
The Parent Trap 1961–1998
The Incredible Journey 1963–1996
Mary Poppins 1964–2018
Winnie the Pooh 1966–present
The Jungle Book 1967–2003; 2016
Herbie 1968–2005
Witch Mountain 1975–2009
The Apple Dumpling Gang 1975–1982
The Rescuers 1977–1990
The Muppets 1979–present
The Fox and the Hound 1981–2006
Tron 1982–present
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids 1989–1997
The Little Mermaid 1989–present
White Fang 1991–1994
Beauty and the Beast 1991–2017
The Mighty Ducks 1992–1996
Aladdin 1992–present
The Lion King 1994–present
Angels in the Outfield 1994–2000
The Santa Clause 1994-present
Pocahontas 1995–1998
Toy Story 1995–present
Freaky Friday 1976–2018; TBA
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996–present
Hercules 1997–present
George of the Jungle 1997–2003
Air Bud 1997–2013
Mulan 1998–present
Tarzan 1999–2005
Inspector Gadget 1999–present
The Emperor's New Groove 2000–2008
Atlantis: The Lost Empire 2001–2003; TBA
Monsters, Inc. 2001–present
The Princess Diaries 2001–2004; TBA
Lilo & Stitch 2002–present
Finding Nemo 2003–present
Pirates of the Caribbean 2003–present
Brother Bear 2003–2006
The Incredibles 2004–present
National Treasure 2004–present
The Chronicles of Narnia 2005–2008
Hocus Pocus 1993–present
Bridge to Terabithia 2007–present
Enchanted 2007-2022
Cars 2006–present
Bolt 2008–2009
Marvel Animated Features 2009–2011
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2008–2012
Up 2009–2023
The Princess and the Frog 2009–present
Tangled 2010–2020
Marvel Cinematic Universe 2012–present
Wreck-It Ralph 2012–present
Planes 2013–2014
Frozen 2013–present
Guardians of the Galaxy 2014–2023
Star Wars 2014–present
Big Hero 6 2014–present
Disney Fairies 2008–2015
Inside Out 2015–present
Descendants 2015–present
Zootopia 2016–present
Moana 2016–present
The Last Warrior 2017–present
Stargirl 2020–2022
The Kingsman 2021–present
Encanto 2021–present
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2021–present
Turning Red 2022–present
Avatar 2022–present
Short films
  1. Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953)
  2. Ben and Me (1953)
  3. Grand Canyonscope (1954)
  4. How to Have an Accident in the Home (1956)
  5. Jack and Old Mac (1956)
  6. A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1956)
  7. The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A. (1957)
  8. The Truth About Mother Goose (1957)
  9. Paul Bunyan (1958)
  10. Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959)
  11. How to Have an Accident at Work (1959)
  12. Noah's Ark (1959)
  13. Goliath II (1960)
  14. Aquamania (1961)
  15. The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961)
  16. Donald and the Wheel (1961)
  17. The Litterbug (1961)
  18. A Symposium on Popular Songs (1962)
  19. Freewayphobia (1965)
  20. Steel and America (1965)
  21. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966)
  22. Donald's Fire Survival Plan (1966)
  23. Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967)
  24. Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968)
  25. It's Tough to Be a Bird (1969)
  26. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974)
  27. The Small One (1978)
  28. Vincent (1982)
  29. Fun with Mr. Future (1982)
  30. Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore (1983)
  31. Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)



  • Disney retains all the distribution rights to these 14 DreamWorks films in perpetuity.
  • Buena Vista is only a distribution studio working for Disney, and does not exist as a separate company.
  • Some home video prints of Disney movies released under RKO instead rely on later re-release under Buena Vista.


  1. California Business Entity #: C0246226
  2. "Disney to Reorganize, Prioritize Streaming In New Leadership Structure" (October 12, 2020).
  3. 3.0 3.1 International distribution only.
  4. In 2011, independent distributor GKIDS acquired the North American theatrical distribution rights to Studio Ghibli's films. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment retained the home media distribution rights to 13 Ghibli films before those films transitioned to GKIDS in 2017. Disney retained the rights to The Wind Rises as Disney's rights had not expired yet, and would transition to GKIDS in 2020. Disney retains home media distribution rights to Studio Ghibli's catalogue in Japan and China.
  5. [1]
  6. California Business Entity #: C0412021
  7. The Disney Studio Story, by Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley, 1988.
  8. Disney, Sony team up for Russian content, The Hollywood Reporter, December 27, 2006.

External links[]

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia page Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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Distribution Labels
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Studio Lots
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Former Studios
Skellington ProductionsCaravan PicturesSIP Animation (Minority Stake)
Former Distribution Brands
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Current Figures
Bob IgerJennifer LeePete DocterKevin FeigeKathleen KennedyChristine McCarthy
Former Figures
Michael EisnerJeffrey KatzenbergJohn LasseterEd CatmullBob ChapekSean Bailey