Palms Resort Casino photo Palms Casino Resort

Source: Photo credit: Palms Casino Resort

Palms Casino Resort

Further details have come to light on how the American Film Market (AFM, November 5-10) will function at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas after event organiser Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) took the decision to relocate it from Santa Monica.

IFTA responded swiftly to complaints about last year’s event – the main gripe being that market hub Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica, off-site sales agents, and screening rooms were too far apart.

The organisation hired a professional event location scout and on January 5 took an IFTA delegation to Las Vegas. It eventually settled on Palms Casino Resort, which reopened in April 2022 after a $600m-plus renovation and houses the 14-screen Brenden Theatres multiplex. IFTA has booked the entire theatre through November 8. 

”Las Vegas is a city that is very good at these types of events and has an incredible service culture,” IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt told Screen, adding that the board did not visit any other cities after the trip to Las Vegas.

“We were particularly aware of the fact that having a 14-screen multiplex on the same elevator bank where all the offices were, where all of the function rooms are, was very difficult to turn away from because that is right in the sweet spot of what buyers wanted.”

“They wanted everything back under the same umbrella”

Prewitt noted that a common observation from last year’s AFM attendees, particularly buyers, was the time it took to get to meetings around Santa Monica. “They wanted everything back under the same umbrella.”

IFTA has booked nine contiguous floors in one tower at Palms Casino Resort which will be converted into offices. Room sizes start at approximately 500 sq ft. Another floor contains larger suites for those who require more substantial office space.

The highest level offers entertaining suites that can be used either for smaller events like panels, or for hospitality by exhibitors, IFTA, and sponsors. Everything connects to a conference floor for larger market events, as well as the Brenden Theatres. 

Jean Prewitt Headshot 2022_adapted

Source: IFTA

IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt

Another frequent complaint from AFM attendees in recent years has been the high cost of Santa Monica, including room rental. Asked about the cost of Palms Casino Resort, Prewitt said: “Our commitment to [attendees] has been that they will get more for their money… It’s our job to make sure the show is a success and also to take care of the members at a point when people are feeling the bite of inflation.”

IFTA has also booked a number of sleeping rooms at the venue at “house rates”.

AFM in Santa Monica presented attendees with the opportunity to schedule meetings with agencies, studios and streamers in adjacent Los Angeles and Burbank. Prewitt noted that for those not flying directly to Las Vegas, there are 34 flights a day from LA and Burbank to Harry Reid International Airport.

She added, “We are to some degree assuming that international travellers who really only come once a year may well tack on a day or two in Los Angeles at one end or the other [of the trip].”

Prewitt said IFTA members who had been canvassed were adopting a practical approach to the change of city after decades in the Santa Monica and Los Angeles area. “They’re good,” she said. ”They said it might or might not have been more convenient if it had been in Los Angeles, but [they accepted] it’s a market they need to attend and it sounds like it will work and will be good for them.”

The executive continued, “There are always going to be people who complain about something and in some cases those might be legitimate complaints. But overall, we think that right now this is a very good [way] of solving some of the buyer problems, and for the first time actually creating space to bring the bigger companies back inside and doing it all pretty efficiently.”

The start of AFM on November 5 coincides with the US general election. American attendees who will be out of state can cast postal ballots prior to travel to Los Angeles.

Screen first reported in February that IFTA was considering moving the market to Las Vegas. IFTA confirmed the development several weeks later.

IFTA will publish the AFM timetable on its website this week accompanied by photographs and floors plans.  

Registration for exhibitors opens on April 9. The early bird deadline is May 3, while registration will open on June 4 for accredited buyers, and on June 20 for attendees / industry professionals.

LocationEXPO runs concurrently with the market from November 5-10 and the AFM Sessions run November 6-9.