Having recently signed a pact with Rotana and News Corp that will see its content screened on the Fox Movies and Fox Series channels in the Middle East, Disney is now looking to cement its presence in the region. DPME.com caught up with Stephen Moore, EVP of media distribution for Disney EMEA.
DPME.com: Disney is already working on its first Arabic-language feature, The Last of the Storytellers, do you expect there to be more Disney production work in the Middle East?
Stephen Moore: Yes, we have already begun early discussions about local production work both on feature films and potentially in television as well. They are at a very early stage however.
DPME.com: Would these be Disney ventures or would you look to operate on a co-production basis with established businesses in the region?
SM: I think we are committed to working with local partners. Certainly, from a creative point of view, it is important to have local input and integration with the regional industry on the ground.
DPME.com: Will this work in the Middle East be confined to content production and distribution or will it cover a wider spread of Disney’s full spectrum of the company’s operations?
SM: Yes, certainly in terms of business activities it absolutely will include a variety of work. We’ve always had a presence in the region in many areas of activity; theatrical, home entertainment, consumer products and television.
We are now dedicated to integrating and expanding these to a much deeper level.
DPME.com: The Middle East packaged media market is remains hamstrung by piracy. What can you do to overturn this situation and cultivate a more viable marketplace for the future?
SM: We must combat piracy and copyright infringement on two separate fronts. We continue to fight for proper legislation and law enforcement but we now also feel that there is a commercial role for us to play. We need to understand and accept the way consumers interact with our products and try to deal with issues regarding immediacy and availability. There is an opportunity for us to attract consumers away from illegal activities and towards the legal alternatives. Having said that, the onus is on us to provide those alternatives.
DPME.com: Some studios are packaging digital versions of their content with their Blu-ray versions. Is this one of the alternatives that could attract consumers back to legitimate content purchases?
SM: We will look at every area of the business including the ‘window’ payment structure that the industry and the studios have developed over many years. We also have to address technology. We must understand what the consumer is looking for and develop distribution models based on the audience’s position rather than from an industry perspective.
DPME.com: One such option is the cloud-based digital content market, Keychest. Could it prove effective in the Middle East?
SM: We are looking at it closely for the EMEA market. The technology has to be available first and we will work with our US colleagues to make sure it is the right tool to use in the EMEA markets.