Mediawan CEO Pierre-Antoine Capton Talks Plan B Acquisition & 2030 Vision

Mediawan CEO and co-founder Pierre-Antoine Capton has said his company’s acquisition of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment in late December heralds an opportunity for all content creators in France and Europe to forge stronger links and footprints in the U.S.

“I’m very happy we did this deal with Brad Pitt. There are lots of French producers who have contacted me since and said, ‘It’s fantastic for the whole sector because you’re going to represent us and allow others to make it too’,” he said. 

“It’s true. Today, we’re getting access a lot more easily,” he said.

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Beyond expanding Paris-based Mediawan’s footprint into the U.S., the endgame of the acquisition was to give more access to French and European talents to international markets, through working with a production company of the calibre of Plan B, he explained.

“It will also require a great deal of work around communication and marketing for our auteurs and our talents… but the aim is to create a big slate of works by French and European talents.”

Capton said Mediawan teams in France had already connected with the creative team at Plan B and had started developing ideas for future projects. 

“We’re working with Plan B and our French companies on our first development projects and co-productions… it’s very interesting for the producers who’ve had access to Plan B. They talk about the high standards of a company which is regularly in the running for the Oscars. We can all learn from that and in turn, this will enrich the entire ecosystem.”

Capton was speaking at French film and TV promotional body Unifrance’s third Export Day in Paris in a segment entitled “Three Questions for…” The event is kicking off the body’s annual Rendezvous In Paris which has expanded to include TV content as well as cinema this year.

Since its creation by Capton, billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel and investment banker Matthieu Pigasse in 2015, Mediawan has expanded into one of the biggest content platforms in Europe.

The company currently gathers 60 production labels, spanning fiction, studio shows, cinema, documentary and animation in 11 territories including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Senegal.

Asked about his 2030 vision for Mediawan, Capton replied by talking about the journey to its creation in 2015, via the creation of his own production company 3e oeil productions in 2001 and his early work mounting the first plays of French Oscar-winning The Father director Florian Zeller in the theatre. 

“Mediawan is a story that is driven by content. I created my independent production company 3e oeil productions 20 years ago. There is a personality who figures a lot on my path, a guy called Florian Zeller. I had the luck to meet him many years ago and I produced his early theatre plays.

“They were very complicated to mount and lost a lot of money, but this young playwright-director was very talented and his plays did really well internationally. This put France in the limelight internationally but I found it surprising that we struggled in France to make [audiovisual] content that did the same as Florian did with his plays.”

Capton recounted how he went on to accompany Zeller on a television adaptation for one of his plays as well as his first short film but revealed their paths had parted for a time when he had been able to support the auteur in ambition to bring his play The Father to the big screen as a feature.

“It wasn’t possible to finance it out of France. He managed to pull it off with his producers but it became an English-language film.”

Capton recounted how this experience had made him reflect about France’s lack of capacity for creating content audiovisual with global reach at the time.

“We’re strong in many things in France – music, fashion, theatre and sport, there are lots of examples, but for content, six, seven years ago, when we launched Mediawan, it was difficult to French producers, auteurs to export [their work]. It was complicated to produce international successes.”

“The idea for Mediawan with co-founders Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse was that if we could organize things in a more industrial manner, we could help talents to export internationally,” he said.

He cited a number of Mediawan shows that found success at home and internationally on the back of this strategy such as HPI, Call My Agent! and La Flamme and Netflix hit Ecole Nouvelle (Rhythm + Flow France).

“In France and other countries in European where we’re present, we’ve shown that we’re capable of success. Now, this market has changed and I think what is going to happen in 2030 is that we will have less difficulty in financing our work internationally. Our ADN is working with the best French and European talents and finding the best way to finance their productions.” 

Capton acknowledged that domestic investment for French audiovisual content was at a crossroads following the breakdown of the planned TF1-M6 fusion late last year as well as the government’s abolition of the TV license fee. 

He noted, however, that Mediawan was capable to continue financing ambitious productions through a more international facing strategy. 

“That was a driving factor in our decision to acquire and enter into a partnership with Brad Pitt’s company Plan B. It allows us to accelerate our development in the U.S. and have a bigger resonance over there so that the next Florian Zeller can stay in France.”

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