Expansion was the keynote of the sales conference at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank early in 1954.

The result was that Cyril Edgar and Cyril James were sent hurrying home to London to form a separate U.K. distribution organization, while in the United States the company inaugurated its own distribution set-up under the name of Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.

Until that time the Disney product, which mainly consisted of cartoons apart from [four] British-made live-action efforts, Treasure Island, [The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men], Rob Roy, and The Sword and the Rose, had been distributed very successfully by RKO. The news that Disney was to go it alone was not exactly earth-shattering news, and at that time only the more optimistic had visions of the company matching the product line-up of the major distribution companies within ten years.

The beginning was definitely humble. The Walt Disney line-up for 1954 consisted of just one feature—a True-Life Adventure titled The Living Desert. One exhibitor had even termed it as the film whose stars were “snakes, beetles, and birds,” but it was a picture that had to be sold if the new London venture was to survive.


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