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'Sedate' AFM Still Generates Deals

8 Nov, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

To the newcomer at the American Film Market, everything would have looked as advertised. It was a bustling movie trade festival with more than 500 films shown, and hundreds of meetings taking place between distributors, producers, content owners and directors.

But while many struck distribution deals and a reported record 8,300-plus attended the event held Oct. 31-Nov. 7 in Santa Monica, Calif., some expressed concerns.

“There wasn't a lot of new product to see,” said Michael Baker, VP of acquisitions and development for ThinkFilm. “A lot of suites I went into had little to no new films for domestic available. I went to fewer screenings than ever before and wasn't excited by most of what I saw. Overall, a disappointing year.”

Ed Baran, a Los Angeles publicist who represents several independent companies, said he didn't come away with a negative impression of the event. It was a productive week for his clients, after all. But he did call this year's AFM “more sedate.”

“It's the least ‘Hollywood' it's ever been,” Baran said.

Still, for people like Larry Brahms, head of MTI Home Video, it was old Hollywood where he found his finest gem during the show.

“We actually ran into the guy who controls everything in the Roy Rogers estate,” he said. “We managed to pick up the first film where Roy and (third and final wife) Dale Evans met …. Can you imagine the synergy between them in that film?”

The film, The Cowboy and the Senorita (1944), highlighted a slate of 15 movies MTI acquired during the show. Brahms said his goal going in was to find quality European films that saw a theatrical release. “If it takes a strong dub to get these films to market, I want to try it,” he said.

MTI was successful in also snapping up:

  • The Belgium action-adventure Stormforce, a military story about a maverick army diver who's brashness puts his teammates at risk;
  • The Last Adam, an African-American character drama taking place in Alabama that played at the 2007 Pan African Film Festival;
  • The Planet, a Scottish sci-fi offering about a group of mercenaries forced to fight otherworldly forces on a desolate planet.

  • Other companies that made a splash during AFM:

  • TLA Releasing acquired the rights to five films from all over the world during AFM, including Thailand's Bangkok Love Story, France's I Dreamt Under Water, the United Kingdom's The Living and The Dead and Socket, and Spain's Boystown.
  • Ariztical Entertainment picked up several films, including three major comedy releases, and also did several deals with the TV networks Here! and Logo. The Logo comedy Laughing Matters … The Men, the comedy Suzanne Westenhoefer: A Bottom on Top, and Kate Clinton: 25th Anniversary Tourwere among the titles the company nabbed.
  • The Hollywood Reporter reported that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired international rights to Lionsgate's The Punisher 2: War Zone and Crank 2: High Voltage.
  • Peace Arch Entertainment Group closed theatrical distribution agreements for three features and DVD and TV agreements for 18 films and one miniseries at AFM. Peace Arch also reached a DVD distribution agreement with Genius Products Inc. to release Goal II: Living the Dream, and three other films Peace Arch is releasing in theaters: Chapter 27, Delirious and Watching the Detectives.

    “We are very pleased to be extending our long-standing distribution relationship with Genius, whose top management and fantastic relationships with major retailers make it one of the best DVD distributors in the business,” said John Flock, president and COO of Peace Arch Entertainment Group.

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