AFM Buyers and Sellers Grapple With Strike Challenges, Hollywood Budget Cuts and the Demand for ‘Bespoke Theatrical Release Strategies’

October 31, 2023

In spite of the ongoing strike by SAG-AFTRA, sales agents and distributors are gathering in Santa Monica this week, eager to reconnect with potential buyers and initiate discussions at the American Film Market.

Following a lackluster Toronto Film Festival with minimal deal-making activity, there's optimism that some of the high-profile film packages presented at AFM will find takers. However, given the current Hollywood landscape, many projects may not officially enter the market until February when the European Film Market takes place in Berlin. The industry is grappling not only with the strike but also with shifting preferences and cost-cutting measures among major studios and streaming platforms.

One positive development at AFM is the return of Chinese buyers after a hiatus of several years. Rob Carney and Alice Laffille at FilmNation noted that their company has been focusing on more mainstream films recently, such as the reboot of "The Crow" and "Lord of War 2." FilmNation has also taken steps to establish an in-house production department and launch the Infrared label to increase its slate of larger and more ambitious movies.

Carney pointed out that there's certainly a strong appetite for and excitement surrounding projects based on existing intellectual property, exemplified by the reboot of "The Crow." An encouraging aspect of this AFM is the presence of Chinese distributors, who had been absent since the start of the pandemic. It's noteworthy that these distributors are now seeking theatrical releases, rather than just TV purchases, signifying a significant shift in their approach. Industry insiders like Beckmann predict that this could serve as a catalyst to rejuvenate the Asian market.

Additionally, Carney mentioned that Japanese and Korean buyers are also expected at AFM, even though Korea has been facing challenges in its box office performance.

Read the whole article on Variety