The number of exhibitors selling films at the American Film Market has dropped by 10% on last year – but the number of buyers attending the event has risen slightly, the market’s organiser said today.

Jonathan Wolf, AFM’s managing director, said that rises in the number of exhibitors over the last few years had grown on “a bubble of over-production” that the global economic downturn had brought to a halt.

The eight day market in Santa Monica, California, which began on November 4, has attracted 369 exhibitors compared to 412 last year – a drop of 43 companies, taking the numbers closer to the figures the AFM attracted four years ago.

However, Wolf said overall the figures for the event had held up well given the economic climate with around 4% more buyers attending, including a record number of 80 newly accredited acquisition companies attending, more than double the number of first-time buyers at previous events.

The new arrivals at the market come from a range of different markets including South Korea (13), the US (10), Russia (7), and China (5).

Exhibitors will be waiting to see what the quality of these new buying companies will be – and how much real business the market will generate.

Wolf said this year’s AFM had ended the glut of films that had been in the market over the last few years and would lead to a return of more pre-buying at key markets.

“Pre-sales used to mean that buyers paid less for their investment because there was more risk in a film that hadn’t been made. The over-supply in the market inverted that curve with buyers knowing they could afford to wait to see finished films because there were so many films being made.”

“We will see a substantial increase of pre-buying because of the end of that glut of production”. He also picked out as a trend the growth of non-English language films at the market – which this year account for 38% of all films on sale compared to 29% in 2004.

This year’s AFM will show 486 films in 28 languages, with 75 world premieres and 328 market premieres.