AFM leadership said on Thursday that the recent in-person edition of the market drew attendees from a record 87 countries while the overall attendee level reached a solid 5,866.
Exhibitors included 305 registered companies from 38 countries, with the largest number after the United States coming from the UK, Italy, France, Germany and Canada. From Asia, South Korea and Thailand deployed a strong presence with 17 and eight exhibition companies respectively. The AFM highlighted Italy and Malaysia as two countries with significant increases in participation with 29 exhibitors and 10, respectively.
Buyers from nearly 500 companies representing 68 countries were present and AFM representatives said the highest number came from the United States followed by Germany, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands.
From Asia, the largest showing of individual buyers were affiliated to companies from Japan (49) and South Korea (48), followed by Singapore (eight), Hong Kong (seven), Taiwan (six), Thailand (six), and China (two).
Buyers from the Russian Federation totalled 14 and as Screen reported last week, buyers not affiliated to the government were reportedly pursuing titles ”aggressively” in the absence of studio fare following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The shorter six-day market is producing a longer tail in terms of deal-making as buyers fly home to continue talks with sales agents over Zoom. This has been a noticeable feature of the Covid era, which has diminished the sense of urgency surrounding deal-making in a physical location, especially in light of year-round sales activity.
A soft pre-sales market, economic woes including a bruising exchange rate for UK and European buyers, and ongoing Covid concerns and national policies that kept buyers from China and Hong Kong away, contributed to the perception of a more languid pace.
Fewer A-list commercial packages were on offer and sources forecast deals would close in the weeks and months ahead. A number of sales agents told Screen that a packed, more focused schedule of meetings allowed parties to engage on new titles and start preliminary talks on content that will get proper sales pushes in Berlin and Cannes.
Attendees both from the US and overseas reiterated the common refrain of expense: the Loews hotel is costly, as are alternative off-site venues in Santa Monica where the blue chip sales companies have established themselves in recent years. Screen understands the AFM leadership intends to stay in Santa Monica for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen how the market will evolve in 203 under the leadership of new co-managing directors Matthew Thompson and Catherine Girard-Cobb.
At time of writing AGC Studios had reported major international territory sales on its new Joel Kinnaman and Mark Strong action thriller The Silent Hour and Concourse Media closed pre-sales on Aaron Eckhart thriller Chief Of Station. Screen understands US offers are on the table for Guy Ritchie’s upcoming Second World War thriller The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which Black Bear International represents.
There were 352 AFM screenings across 15 commercial theatre screens over four days and the AFM On Demand platform. The AFM re-introduced two new exhibitor programmes this year – Reserved Meeting Tables, which it said were in high demand, as well an Offsite Exhibition programme.
The AFM Sessions presented by Cast & Crew and Spcine under the auspices of the conference programme heard from Arclight Films’ Brian Beckmann, Mary Jane Skalski of Echo Lake Entertainment, Mimi Steinbauer of Radiant Films International, Scott Shooman of IFC Films, XYZ Films’ Maxime Cottray, Clay Epstein of Film Mode Entertainment, and Cassian Elwes of Elevated Film Sales.
“AFM 2022 was an important milestone in our 43-year history,” said Jean Prewitt, president/CEO of Independent Film & Television Alliance, which stages the AFM. “Our mission is to give the independent industry a strong platform for sales, education, and networking. After three years away, new energy filled Santa Monica throughout the week, with a steady drumbeat of business being done and participants from 87 countries enthusiastically engaged in sharing the industry knowledge that makes face-to-face markets so vital.”