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DISNEY SEQUEL WILL PLAY IN SOME FOREIGN THEATERS.

Byline: Dave McNary Daily News Staff Writer

The Walt Disney Co., seeking to squeeze more from a key property, will release its direct-to-video ``Lion King'' sequel into European and Latin American theaters next spring but not in its own back yard.

``Simba's Pride,'' a centerpiece of Disney's strategy to produce low-cost videos based on recognizable characters, will hit store shelves Oct. 27 in the United States, as planned previously, but will not make it into domestic theaters.

``Our basic thinking is that there's clearly a theatrical audience in those overseas markets,'' Disney spokeswoman Cheryl Glenn said Friday.

Other foreign markets such as Asia also will not see ``Simba's Pride'' in theaters because plans for the video release already have been set in motion, she added.

``The Lion King'' was a massive box office hit in 1994 and became the top video seller with 30 million copies in the U.S. market.

Disney launched its direct-to-video sequel strategy in 1994 with ``The Return of Jafar'' and sold a surprising 10 million copies of its first ``Aladdin'' sequel. Disney now has plans to release as many as four high-profile, direct-to-video titles annually by 2000.

Earlier this year, Disney dropped plans for a direct-to-video sequel to ``Toy Story'' and switched the sequel to a late 1999 theatrical release as part of the entertainment giant's increased moves to protect its cornerstone franchise of animated movies.

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PHOTO (Color) ``Simba's Pride,'' a direct-to-video sequel to Disney's ``The Lion King,'' will be released theatrically in some foreign markets.
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 10, 1998
Words:254
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