It’s going to be a crucial year for the 43rd edition of the American Film Market (AFM). It has to be successful in order to survive, considering that close to 90 percent of the budget to run it is said to be generated from the market, and the two recent years without a market (due to COVID concerns) really affected its finances.

Fortunately, for this 2022 event, all indications are that things are heading in the right direction, with 164 film sales companies already registering to exhibit as of August 29, 2022. These include ACI, Electric Entertainment, Lionsgate, MGM, Multicom, and Vision Films from the U.S.; Studio 100 from Germany; TF1 Studios from France; ICEX from Spain; and ANICA from Italy, in addition to a slew of U.K.-based companies. And more are expected to sign on before opening day. So far, this compares to 375 exhibitors for the 2019 edition, the last in-person market before the pandemic made the AFM move to virtual events.

In May, the AFM marketing department sent a note to all potential exhibitors and participants to announce that, for its first in-person market in years, “all office costs are lower than 2019.” This is ostensibly because the event will be three days shorter than in the past. It’ll now take place November 1-6.

As usual, the offices will be located at the Loews Santa Monica, and this year, according to the note sent by Robin Burt, VP of Marketing for the AFM, “the full conference program is moving from the Fairmont Hotel to the Loews.” The conference program lists 15 sessions, starting on November 2, and all will be held at the Arcadia, which is on the 5th floor, one level above the lobby.

Another hotel to lose out is the Marriott, which (just like in 2019) will not have sales offices located there. During the pre-pandemic period, the Marriott, which is adjacent to the Loews, was a vibrant AFM meeting place.

The two other announcements were that the 43rd edition of the film market will start on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, one day earlier than its traditional Wednesday start, and that the last full day of the five-day market will be Saturday, November 5, with office move-out on Sunday.

Previously, on May 3, 2022, AFM’s organizer, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), announced that Jonathan Wolf, managing director of its AFM, and EVP of the IFTA trade association, would step down when his current term ended on June 30, 2022.  Wolf, who has led the AFM for 24 years, will continue on as an advisor through the 2022 AFM, but no replacement has so far been announced. Some believe that he will probably not be replaced to save some operational costs.

Finally, the AFM will have its traditional umbrella stand at MIPCOM 2022.  The companies confirmed for the IFTA Pavilion are: Cinetel Films, Film Mode Entertainment, Highland Film Group, Multicom Entertainment Group, Premiere Entertainment, Resurgence Media, and VMI Worldwide, with additional companies still confirming.

As for hotel reservations in Santa Monica, market organizers said that guests could, in advance, request/reserve the same hotel and room type that they had during the last in-person market in 2019. The deadline for this “Priority Hotel” request was September 2, 2022.”

However, participants can still request “Best Hotel Rates” up until September 30, 2022. Jennifer Garnick, IFTA’s VP of Communications, explained that the AFM has “arrangements with 19 hotels in the city to offer participants the guaranteed lowest rate when reserving accommodations through us.”

The AFM website specifies that “AFM pre-qualifies every buyer who attends to ensure they are serious and credible,” and that “AFM exhibitor[s] will be privy to the full list of all the accredited buyers a month before AFM commences.” In 2019, the market accredited 1,300 buyers.

“A lot of people will be at the AFM,” predicted ACI’s George Shamieh, whose Van Nuys, California-based company skipped the Toronto Film market TIFF because, he feels that the theatrical market has dried up and the AFM is preferred for TV rights sales.

However, according to veteran to Canadian film-TV distributor Nat Abraham, “the TIFF crowd is a completely different crowd than the AFM buyers. More independent but also with some major studio premieres. You don’t really see the studios at AFM. TIFF is also open to the general public to see the films. AFM isn’t open to the public.”

Added Irv Holender, chairman of Beverly Hills, California-based Multicom Entertainment Group, “Yes, the AFM will be a good market, but upfronts and pre-sales will be a thing of the past. Expect sales of lots of finished product and library material.”

Ken DuBow, an AFM veteran from the Los Angeles-based Access Entertainment, will be attending as a participant, or at the most taking a table, because he’s “now doing less international business, and more U.S. deals.” In his view the AFM will be good if AVoD becomes a big factor. Meanwhile, he said “not to expect many Asian buyers because of COVID restrictions, a concern not while in the U.S., but for when travellers return to countries like China where, if positive, they are forced to a strict quarantine.”

An updated AFM preview story will be featured in VideoAge Daily at MIPCOM on October 18 with on the spot interviews and comments taken on the exhibition floor.

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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