Less than a week after it emerged that Buena VistaInternational's joint distribution venture with French studio Gaumont wasending, the distributor announced it will open an independent office in Francethis summer to handle all Walt Disney Studios films in the territory.

Buena Vista International (France) will be headed up inParis by Jean-Francois Camilleri, the current general manager of Gaumont BuenaVista International.

The company will handle all Walt Disney Studio films,including Touchstone Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, Tokyo-based GhibliStudios' animated feature films, Bill Mechanic's Pandemoniumproductions and various other acquisitions.

BVI (France) will commence operation in the summer -when the existing contract with Gaumont comes to an end - beginning withthe release of Disney's animated family musical Home On The Range.

This will be followed by the Jerry Bruckheimer productionof King Arthur directed by AntoineFuqua, M Night Shyamalan's The Village, Hayao Miyazaki's new animated film Howl'sMoving Castle and Disney/Pixar's TheIncredibles.

Last week Columbia TriStar Films France and Gaumontannounced the creation of Gaumont Columbia TriStar Films, bringing to an endBVI's successful association with the French major that began in1993.GBVI was the number one distributor in France last year.

"Jean-Francois has been an outstanding member of ourinternational organisation and is highly respected throughout the French filmdistribution community," Mark Zoradi, president of BVI and Buena VistaHome Entertainment, said in a statement. "I am thrilled he will beleading our new team."

"I am excited by this new opportunity to continuedistributing world-class films in France and look forward to our upcomingslate," Camilleri added.

In 2005 BVI (France) plans to release Pandemonium'sfirst film Dark Water by Walter Salles,Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic, Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, JohnTurteltaub's National Treasure, Walt Disney Pictures' ChickenLittle and Disney/Pixar's Cars.