AFM Sales Slow but Steady

The Hollywood Reporter
AFM Sales Slow but Steady

Buyers who gorged themselves in Berlin,Cannes and Toronto arrived at AFM with less of an appetite than in previous years and seemed content to pick over the market’s offerings without feeling the need to dig in.

The traffic in the halls and offices of the Loews Hotel was noticeably down from last year as international distributors griped about lack of big titles on offer.

“I definitely think there are fewer films out there — fewer big-budget movies, fewer action-packed films and less volume, full stop,” said Alex Walton of Exclusive Media. “People bought a lot at Cannes and at Toronto; many buyers have full slates and don’t need another movie. But people are still here looking for movies and are ready to pay the right money for them.”Walton and other sellers noted that they had toned down their expectations in light of the sagging European market.

“With the European economy still in bad shape, we could only count on the more established territories like France, Germany or England,” said Ricky Tse, head of distribution and sales at Hong Kong’s Media Asia. “Italy’s not looking well, and the Greeks have basically disappeared.”

But there were some buzz titles: Anything targeting the 50-plus “bestagers” market with an A-list cast was hot; see the global sales success of Al Pacino-Jeremy Renner starrer Imagine from Mr. Smith Entertainment or Foresight’s And So It Goes with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. And distributors looking for the next teen fantasy franchise —now that Twilight is wrapping up and the remaining Hunger Games films have sold out worldwide — scoured the market for promising titles.

But there was little on offer. Mr.Smith’s The Mortal Instruments:City of Bones sold out before AFM kicked off, and the Inferno’s project The Fallen, based on Lauren Kate’s hit teen fantasy novels about fallen angels and forbidden love, had nothing to show except the book, with no script, director or cast attached.

Incompletely packaged projects abounded at AFM this year, from Alcon’s brainy sci-fi film Transcendence, which Johnny Depp is in negotiations to star in but doesn’t have a start date, to the untitled high-concept “teens vs. aliens” feature which Sony Pictures will produce and Good Universe is selling but which has nothing but the concept to sell.

“There are an extremely large number of films where the script isn’t finished or there’s no cast or director in place,” said Martin Moskowicz, head of film and TV at German mini-major Constantin Film. “Projects are being shown at a stage where, in the past, they would have held back till  Berlin or Cannes.”

Clarence Tsui contributed to this report.