ABL to specialize on acquiring mid- to low-budget titles
One of Spain’s most experienced distrib execs, Adolfo Blanco, has created his own film distribution company, ABL Augusta.Blanco ankled as general manager of Spanish-Italian media giant DeAPlaneta in January. Taking all rights for Spain, ABL will focus on acquiring mid- to low-budget horror, arthouse and classic titles, closing deals on completed films, Blanco says from the American Film Market. He will announce his first acquisitions slate at the Cannes Film Festival. ABL will look to exploit market opportunities in a distribution sector that has begun to buy far more selectively after last year’s merger of satcasters Via Digital and Canal Satelite Digital. Sogecable, the owner of Digital Plus, the digital TV platform resulting from the merger, has signaled that, in the short term at least, it will not be buying films from Spain’s indie distributors. “Spanish distribution can only get better,” Blanco says. “DVD is growing. Distributor ranks are unfortunately thinning. “That means, however, that fewer films will be released theatrically in Spain. So returns on released titles should improve.” Many horror titles have performed above expectations in Spain. While at DeAPlaneta, Blanco saw strong returns on Asian titles he purchased such as “Dark Water,” “The Eye” and “The Grudge.” The Spanish government has also announced that it will authorize the creation of 14 DTT TV channels. If these ever launch, they will need to access film titles. Blanco will exercise full ownership of ABL. “I might entertain the idea of partners in second-phase expansion,” he says. Before joining the Barcelona-based Planeta Group in 1999, Blanco spent six years as head of sales and acquisitions at Spanish mini-major Filmax. ABL are Blanco’s initials; Augusta is the Barcelona street where he has set up offices.