The Tarak Ben Ammar "empire": controlling the film’s lifecycle
The North "returns back down" to the South


In the field of technical industries, Tarak Ben Ammar has made the choice of a long-term strategy, which controls the entire image and sound postproduction. He has become the leader in France in this field by consolidating the sector. This sector suffered from many handicaps: extreme fragmentation, absence of critical mass – in particular compared to the Anglo-Saxon monsters –, under-capitalization, financial fragility exacerbated by customer practice... Most of these companies were at the edge of bankruptcy. They are now part of a coherent whole, of European dimensions. The South always "goes up" to the North, but to then return back down with the creation of postproduction studios and laboratories, LTC-Gammarth, in Tunisia.

 

1990 // CREATION OF QUINTA COMMUNICATIONS

With a registered capital of FRF 30 million, in association with Silvio Berlusconi.

 

1995 // KIRCH PARTICIPATES IN QUINTA COMMUNICATIONS

 

2000 // CREATION OF EMOTION

Tarak Ben Ammar initiated this association with Kirch and Mediaset, which acquired individually many American films for Italy, Spain and Germany. He brings in France and the UK.

Advantages? Selecting projects at an early stage based on the script, more selectivity, no longer purchase packages. And, when they acquire the rights for all media (including their respective television channels) for a film for all of these five countries, with Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, this represents about 40% of its value. "Emotion represents an alternative for projects that are having difficulties finding 100% of their budget with the majors." Emotion became involved in The Legend of Bagger Vance by Robert Redford, Bandits by Barry Levinson with Bruce Willis...

 

2002  // IN FEBRUARY, QUINTA COMMUNICATIONS ACQUIRES EX MACHINA

This photochemical laboratory handles the printing and development of film copies.  "Through my business relations, I am co-producer of feature-length films and fiction series of international dimensions. It is sufficient that I give part of the postproduction of these productions to Ex Machina for the laboratory and postproduction to be well into profit."

In June, Tarak Ben Ammar buys shares in the LTC Group, which also handles copy printing. The activities are complementary to those of Ex Machina. "It is important to save key actors from a sector in which France is a major player in terms of quality."

 

2003 // QUINTA ACQUIRES DURAN DUBOI

(Immortelle, RRRrrrr !!!, A Very Long Engagement, 2046). The Group is specialized in digital technologies – postproduction, special effects, 3D images, sound and sound mixing.

 

2004 // QUINTA ESTABLISHES AGREEMENT WITH TECHNICOLOR AND THOMSON

Advantages: benefiting from the latest-generation technologies of the Thomson Group and allow Quinta to benefit from Technicolor’s worldwide agreements with the American majors. In 2006, Thomson takes 17.5% stake in Dataciné (bringing together Quinta’s postproduction activities).

Tarak Ben Ammar enters the audiovisual market in Italy. "Murdoch had a pay channel in Italy. It was in competition with that of Canal + (Telepiù) which was in serious trouble. In 2003, I went to see Jean-Marie Messier, at a time when Vivendi was having difficulties. I convinced him to sell. The fusion of the two companies created a monopoly for Murdoch. The European Commission obliged him to sell two broadcast networks. I offered to buy them to enter the television operator market in Italy. The EC told me that I was not an operator and that I should associate myself with an operator. I approached TF1, which became my minority shareholder. In 2004, we launched a bouquet of seven digital channels – Dfree – which includes a sports channel, Sportitalia. In 2008, we launched a digital pay bouquet with Warner, Universal and Mediaset."

In Italy, Tarak Ben Ammar is one of the five television operators, with Rai, Mediaset, Telecom Italia and Murdoch. It is the smallest, but with the largest bouquet.

2005 // TARAK BEN AMMAR BECOMES PARTNER OF THE WEINSTEIN BROTHERS WITH A € 30 MILLION STAKE

(on an equal footing with TF1) who wants to create a new major in the US (their production company Miramax now being at the hands of Disney). The approach is always the same: conduct in parallel its policies of production and protection of French technical industries. "The balance of power has changed. We are not just producers and distributors of films. We can also impose our technical industry on the Americans."

"I’m not going to tell the Weinsteins how to do their job. But I intend to encourage them to look at European projects at an earlier stage. My role is to Europeanize the new Miramax."

 

2006 // DATACINÉ GROUP BECOMES QUINTA INDUSTRIES

 

2007 // TARAK BEN AMMAR ACQUIRES ÉCLAIR STUDIOS

Éclair studios is a photochemical and digital laboratory. First 43% then, in December, the totality, in the company’s centenary year. The Dormoy family, the owner, declares to the press that it will be "the guarantee of the brand’s longevity and the survival of Éclair".

 

2008 // TARAK BEN AMMAR OFFICIALLY UNVEILS HIS NEW EUROPEAN FILM DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY

(but also in Canada through Alliance), in February, at the Berlin Film Festival, in partnership with the Goldman Sachs bank. "Our aim: to be an independent European distribution platform, which offers the same quality as the American majors, but which does not have the same operation in terms of decision taking. We can be an alternative to the majors, without necessarily being in competition with them."

"Today, 550 films per year are distributed in Europe, of which 350 by the American majors. This leaves 200 films, of which two-thirds are from the independent American film-making industry. It is this market that we are targeting by providing pan-European distribution for twenty or so feature-length films per year."

Tarak Ben Ammar wants to offer a 'one-stop-shop' to independent producers, by simplifying the procedures and offering financial guarantees, a new way of approaching pre-sales: "It is a non-negligible advantage at a time when it is strategically important to have film launches that are as wide as possible in view of Web bootlegging, but also to spread the distribution costs and the risks associated with a film in the different areas. Lastly, it allows us to obtain the totality of the distribution rights for all media types – DVD, television.."