Buena VistaInternational (BVI) passed $1bn in annual tickets sales yesterday [Tuesday],marking the 11th consecutive year the distributor has achieved the distinction.

"We're thrilledto be able to keep this going," BVI president Mark Zoradi said. "Theinteresting thing about the theatrical business is that the shelf is emptyevery year. Through good product years and lean product years we have been ableto pull out this $1bn."

2005 has turnedout to be one of the distributor's leaner years since the remarkable run beganin 1995, however Disney has saved the best until last and top brass expect amighty finale with the December launch of The Chronicles Of Narnia: TheLion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.

So far two BVItitles have grossed more than $100m this calendar year - National Treasure on $108.2m, which climbs to $173mincluding 2004 ticket sales, and The Incredibles on $107.4m, which rises to $370mincluding 2004.

Other key performershave been BVI's 2005 'sleeper hit' The Pacifier on $85.4m, Herbie: Fully Loaded on $78m, The Hitchhiker's Guide ToThe Galaxy on $53m, and$52m in BVI markets for Sin City.

BVI's annualreport card has been buoyed in recent weeks by the strong performances of Flightplan, currently on more than $61m, and ChickenLittle, which has rackedup more than $16m in a little over two weeks. Zoradi and his team expect boththese titles to amass more than $100m this year alone, along with Narnia.

Narnia, which Disney co-financed with PhilipAnschutz's Walden Media, is being fast-tracked around the world and is expectedto soar past $100m before the end of the year. It opens day-and-date with theDec 9 domestic release in 14 territories, and in fact is set to launch daysbefore North America in the UK, Spain, Germany and Australia. The picture willroll out that same weekend in Mexico and Brazil and is scheduled to be activein 80% of the international marketplace by the end of the year.

What has alsohelped BVI in 2005 is a crop of successful local-language productions andpick-ups. Barfuss andThe Wild Soccer Bunch II each grossed more than $12m in Germany and German-speakingEurope, while La Marche De L'Empereur (aka March Of The Penguins) took more than $13m in France, and Howl'sMoving Castle amassedmore than $17m in international markets outside Japan.

"Nearly 10% ofour business this year will come from either locally produced or locallyacquired movies," Zoradi said. "We'd love to see that figure grow."

The BVIpresident cited rising distribution costs, piracy and falling theatricaladmissions as "challenges" facing the international theatrical sector. Howeverhe was quick to point out that the combined power of Narnia and Flightplan, Warner Bros' Harry Potter And TheGoblet Of Fire andUniversal's King Kongshould see fourth quarter international box office overtake the fourth quarterof 2004.

BVI's 11consecutive $1bn years:
1995: $1.007bn
1996: $1.091bn
1997: $1.253bn
1998: $1.173bn
1999: $1.320bn
2000: $1.307bn
2001: $1.041bn
2002: $1.058bn
2003: $1.882bn
2004: $1.723bn
2005: $1bn+