Photo: GKIDS, Hanway Films And Disney
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BUENOS AIRES — New York-based Ammo Content, a technology-oriented film-TV distributor has acquired rights to two Spanish modern classics – “Chico and Rita” and “Historias para no dormir” – as it expands into Europe and Latin America, and also explores ever more licensing to new markets such as rising AVOD players.
Directed by Academy Award-winning Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”), Javier Mariscal and Tono Errondo, “Chico and Rita” yoked broad strike flamboyant animation and a Latin Jazz score by legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés in a love story set between Cuba, New York and Europe in the 1940s and 1950s which was acquired by Gkids for the U.S. and nominated for an Academy Award as best animated feature film.
Created and presented by Narciso Ibanez Serrador, “Historias para no dormir” is an pioneering Spanish TV series, adapting classics from Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allen Poe. First aired by public broadcaster TVE in 1966, it opened the door on Spain for a generation of Spanish horror movie directors – Alex de la Iglesia and J.A. Bayona.
Other new Ammo Spanish-language pickups take in cult hard-boiled shoot-em-up “Santiago Violenta,” from Chile’s Ernesto Díaz Espinosa, and the high-school set “Mariposas Verdes,” from Colombia’s Nieto Roa, said Ammo founder-CEO Amar Oner who is attteding Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur to meet companies.
The acquisitions’ announcement comes as the content demand of new global SVOD platforms, growth AVODs and appetite of more traditional pay TV players create new revenue streams for both new and recent heritage titles, and for companies such as Ammo able to facilitate for right-holders the process of getting them to buyers.
Launched in first quarter 2017, Ammo positions itself as a conduit between rights holders and representatives and new global platforms. buying library – films and TV series maybe 10-20 years old – from IP rights holders worldwide and licenses to SVOD, AVOD and TVOD services around the world as well as, additionally, cable VOD, pay TV and home video portals in North America.
To date, it has published over 4,500 assets on platforms and services sourced from 120-plus content partners. It represents close to 2,000 titles and just over 4,000 hours of content.
To date Ammo Content still majorly acquires U.S. titles. But its Latin American and European operations are growing, with Pablo Romero – one of the best-known of Spanish digital executives, having spearheaded Yomni at Spain’s Canal Plus mid-decade – having joined Ammo to handle expansion into Europe.
Oner projects that by the end of 2020, over 35% of Ammo’s revenue will be generated outside of the US.
European clients which it has acquired titles from include Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, multinational Mediapro, Franco-German network Arte and giant German independent Beta Film.
Ammo operating a turnkey technical service, handling the entire content delivery process in-house, which includes on-boarding, encoding, quality control fixing damaged materials and metadata. It also has in-house graphic designers, handling artwork creation, promotion/marketing and storage.
By removing technical barriers to entry for our content partners and internalizing all operational and creative workflows, it’s now possible to make more quality content visible on more platforms, Romero said.
That means that Ammo can set out to acquire and sell “very high-quality content that may have been produced as much as 10-or-more years ago and was mostly just sitting on the shelf,” said Oner.
He added: “In this way, we can distribute content that has never had a digital release, provide new revenue streams for our licensors, and add value to platforms in new regions. I see us as an extension of both licensor and publisher and it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Content delivery, and especially optimization and maximization, are beyond the scope and not the core business for many rights holders, and is especially onerous for those with large catalogs, Oner argued.
“To get content online, large organizations with hundreds or even thousands of titles – production companies, channels, sales agents – would have to expend a lot of resources, either internally to build out infrastructure and hire experienced staff in their non-core business, or have to pay a lab for encoding and delivering their IP,” he said.
So, more often than not, these companies end up starting out in the red, spending tens of thousands of dollars, or more, just to get their titles online, and then hope that they can make it back. “Even worse, some may not enter the digital market at all, leaving a lot of money on the table,” Oner added.
Having operated largely below the radar, with Oner trying to stay on top of growth and traveling some 15 markets a year simply to meet companies in person, Ammo is now raising its profile.
Ammo is exploiting new markets, working with SVODs and AVODs, which are themselves expanding geographically, Tubi entering the U.K., or in market presence, Pluto TV adding 11 new channels to their Latino offer this October.
“In the US, the digital market is very competitive and fragmented, which is only increasing with the recent number of players entering the streaming wars. In Latin America and Europe, there are relatively fewer platforms, especially regarding AVODs, but I think that’s going to change rapidly over the next couple years, and we are already prepared,” Oner said.
“I have now many years of experience in this business, and this time is one of the few when the real value of content is sometimes unknown,” said Romero.
He added: “So as a content owner, you could go and close a deal that may not be in your best interest, as its value is unknown until reaching the market, or just the opposite may be true, you pay and assume costs to distribute something that ends up not having real value in the market at all.”