With experience of sales, production and distribution in Hollywood, Talaat Captan’s A2 Avalon is positioning itself to take Middle East content to the global market. Digital Broadcast caught up with him to discuss his new venture.
Which specific activities will A2 Avalon be focusing on?
Talaat Captan: The foundation of the company is the content library that we have acquired. There is 11,000 hours of programming and we have the licence for pay TV, free TV, airlines, mobile, VOD… everything. From this foundation we can then move into production, co-productions and other activities.
One of those additional activities is Blu-ray authoring. Do you think the more secure Blu-ray format could stifle piracy in the region?
TC: No not really. We will always have piracy. There will be no end. What we do have is a select group of people that appreciate quality. Blu-ray sales are increasing constantly [in the Middle East] just like they are everywhere else in the world and we expect Blu-ray to gradually be phased in as the default format. This move puts us are ahead of the game. Our first Blu-ray is out now, Valkyrie is the first title. We are going to start with eight titles that are very much in demand in Blu-ray, movies that people really want to see in higher quality. We have key sales accounts for these products across the region.
How advanced are A2 Avalon’s plans to move into production?
TC: We will start producing immediately, and will have a 13 episode series in production in Lebanon after the summer . We will also be producing feature films. We want to focus on exporting – producing content for worldwide distribution – rather than solely importing from outside the region. The bulk of my experience lies is in producing films for worldwide distribution.
Why will you be focusing more on exports?
TC: This is not a huge market internationally, largely because of the piracy threat. There is a lot of opportunity here and many stories that would work really well and could have world wide appeal. The region’s talent is underrepresented in the global market. When was the last you were travelling and you saw an Arabic movie playing in Japan? I don’t want to just continue doing what everyone else is doing and just keep making movies for one specific pan-Arab channel. I want to produce for worldwide audiences.
How important was it to have the rights across all formats?
TC: It was the deal breaker, I didn’t want the library without the multiplatform rights. We are discovering a new market at the moment that you cannot ignore. The internet is the real deal, it’s a brand new platform for us and we will ease into it.
How does Hollywood perceive the Middle East market in your view?
TC: It is worth half a percent rising to one percent, of their annual revenue. There is competition in the region and it is becoming a much healthier market but the Middle East is still not at the level it should be at based on its population. We don’t have ratings. The industry is trying hard to establish this, but it remains difficult to know how many people are watching.