Post-production group hit by digitization of French theaters

PARIS — Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Industries, one of Gaul’s biggest post-production and vfx facilities groups, has been placed under Gaul’s equivalent to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by a French court.

The group, which includes LTC, Scanlab and Duran Duboi, employs nearly 200 staff.

Duran Duboi’s most recent commissions include toon feature “The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart,” produced by Luc Besson.

Ben Ammar said he would present a plan aimed at safeguarding jobs to the company’s employees within the next two months. Workers went on strike last month when they didn’t receive their salaries.

The French-Tunisian exec owns 83% of the company, while the remaining stake is owned by Technicolor, which came out of bankruptcy protection in February.

With the bulk of Quinta Industries’ activities linked to production of 35mm release prints, the acceleration of French theaters’ digital conversion over the last three months led to the company’s downfall, Ben Ammar told French news agency AFP.

According to Thierry de Segonzac, prexy of Ficam, the French technicians association, the demand for film prints has dropped 30% every year since 2008, leading to the decline of a number of companies, including Laboratory Eclair, which finalized its debt recovery plan earlier this year.

“When the film and TV board CNC set up its plan to digitize French screens it forgot to take into account the post-production industry,” de Segonzac said.

Ben Ammar told Variety that the company was also hurt by the French anti-trust board’s decision to ban Quinta’s merger with Eclair Group, in which Ben Ammar owns a 43% share, in 2008. He said this merger would have allowed a consolidation of the sector.

However, the French state’s initiative to fund the digitization of more than a thousand French films, which was announced at Cannes, will greatly boost the sector’s activity, Ben Ammar said.

Quinta Industries is part of Quinta Communications, Ben Ammar’s production and distribution powerhouse, whose credits include Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Black Gold.”

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