Fuelled by suchhits as Finding Nemoand Brother Bear,Buena Vista International (BVI) has passed $1bn in international tickets salesin record time this year, becoming the first distributor to achieve the feat in10 consecutive years.

BVI passed the milestone on Aug 22, continuing a streakthat started in 1995,since which time it has amassed $12.1bn in ticket salesand released 36 $100m-plus titles.

This year'sresult was powered by four $100m-plus releases from a pool of 43 titles thateach grossed more than $1m.

Brother Bear has grossed $145m this year alone, and$165m since opening last Christmas; it is the 16th animated production releasedby Walt Disney Company to take more than $250m worldwide.

Nemo has taken $100m of its $524.9minternational gross this year; The Haunted Mansion has grossed $104.4m this year and$106.4m in total; and King Arthur has amassed $107.4m.

"This is a testament to sustained great product and oursustained and seasoned management team," BVI president Mark Zoradi toldScreendaily.com, adding that half of the team arrived during the period of1992-94.

Zoradi praised allthe distributor's international partners, reserving special mention for Japan,which has contributed a significant chunk to BVI's 2004 gross, which currentlystands at $1.1bn.

The territoryaccounts for a staggering $101.9m of Nemo's international gross and $30.5m of the total sum taken by TheHaunted Mansion.

"Japan works fora couple of reasons," Zoradi said. "The Disney brand is very strong there andwe take great pains to work with our local office to customise campaigns.

"The perfectexample is Finding Nemo,which was marketed in the US as a comedy first and a wonderful emotional storysecond. In Japan we reversed the order and brought the father-and-son elementto the fore, followed by the comedy angle."

Zoradi cited all the major European markets, Mexico andAustralia as "fabulous" performers, adding that Russia was continuing to"explode" as an emerging market for BVI.

He alsotrumpeted Buena Vista International (France), the fledgling distributionoperation that opened for business on Jul 1 following the end of BVI's jointventure with French studio Gaumont.

"Between TheVillage and KingArthur we have hadnumber one movies there for six out of our first nine weeks in operation."

Despite thelacklustre performances of many Disney titles on the domestic front this year,certain elements leant themselves to a strong international run.

"King Arthur is a good example of a picture thatprobably had more of an international appeal with its British leads andEuropean story and frankly I'd have been surprised if it hadn't done as well asit did abroad," Zoradi said.

The rest of theyear sees the continued run of The Village, which has opened top in all its 16 markets to date and hasgrossed $30.8m.

Upcomingreleases that Zoradi expects to perform strongly include The PrincessDiaries 2: Royal Engagement, Ladder 49, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced National Treasure, Pixar's The Incredibles, and Miramax's Shall We Dance'