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News From AFM 2010

8 Nov, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Acquisitions have started as part of the 2010 American Film Market, running Nov. 3-10, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Check back here for updates.

-AFM attendance was up 6% overall in 2010, climbing to 7,695, compared with 7,246 last year. The number of companies acquiring product rose 1% to 664 from 658 last year, while acquisitions executives remained relatively flat, at 1,417, compared with 1,419 in 2009.

“The positive feeling in the halls is a direct result of production levels that are now in balance with marketplace demand,” said AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf, who also is EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). “Buyers are pre-buying, assuring they will have a steady flow of films, which in turn assures producers that their films have been pre-accepted by the marketplace.”
Companies selling product, however, dropped 7% to 343.

AFM saw 427 films screen, 43 of those being world premieres and 306 being market premieres. Twenty-one films screened in 3D, and there were films from 36 countries, totaling more than 700 screenings in all.

-The International Trade Administration (ITA) of USDOC, through its market development cooperator program (MDCP), awarded IFTA $248,000 to enhance global competitiveness of U.S. film exports. The multiyear award will help establish new U.S. pavilions at film and television markets, including at Hong Kong FILMART 2011 March 21-24.

“We are proud that MDCP recognized IFTA’s ability to help U.S. independent film companies compete more effectively in the global marketplace,” said IFTA president-CEO Jean Prewitt.

-Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired domestic and select international rights to The River Sorrow. Directed by Rich Cowan, the film stars Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. The film just ended principle photography.

-Anchor Bay Films through AFM has finalized acquiring all rights for English speaking territories to The Howling: Reborn, a new chapter in “The Howling” horror series, written and directed by Joe Nimziki.

“Genre films have always been special at Anchor Bay,” said Kevin Kasha, EVP of acquisitions and co-productions. “Given our success with many of the classic franchises and their honored remakes, The Howling: Reborn is the perfect addition to our family.”

The film is currently in post-production.

Additionally, Anchor Bay acquired all distribution rights for the United States, United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand to dark high school comedy Daydream Nation. The film opened the Toronto International Film Festival’s Canada First! Daydream Nation is the full-length directorial debut of Michael Goldbach and stars Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor) as a girl who has an affair with her teacher. The film will be released theatrically in 2011.

“Daydream Nation is a great addition to the 2011 Anchor Bay slate,” said Anchor Bay Entertainment president Bill Clark. “Our team has the ability to really target the audience that will love this film.”

-Through the Toronto Film Festival, Film Movement has acquired Israel’s Academy Award submission, The Human Resources Manager. The film will see a theatrical release across North America in March and hits cable VOD in the summer 2011.

-The Weinstein Co. has acquired sci-fi thriller Apollo 18, based on a screenplay by Brian Miller, who won the first-ever Astana International Action Film Festival screenplay competition, which was founded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov.  Trevor Cawood will direct. The documentary-style film follows lost footage from Apollo 18’s secret mission to the moon, revealing new life forms. It’s set to begin filming in December, with a March release date.

-Gay film distributor Wolfe Video has acquired distribution rights to A Marine Story, a drama about the U.S. Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Kickoff, a comedy about a gay soccer team.

“We are proud to represent this powerful film and appreciate the powerful statement it makes about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Wolfe Releasing president Maria Lynn.

A Marine Story opened Oct. 22 theatrically in Los Angeles. Kickoff will hit film festivals throughout 2011 and come to DVD/VOD next fall.

-MTI Home Video has acquired 11 films so far at AFM, including thrillers Fatal Secrets, Krews and Accused at 17; action film Chicago Overcoat; horror films Closed for the Season, Savage and Legion: The Final Exorcism; sci-fi/fantasy film Gene-Fusion; family caper Boathouse Detectives; and horror/thrillers The Undying and Resurrection County.

“I am excited about the variety of product we were able to acquire at the market,” remarked Jay Grossman, VP, acquisitions and sales, MTI Home Video.  “The market was up-beat and more conducive to doing business and getting deals done this year.”

-Gay film distributor Ariztical Entertainment is buying and selling films at this year’s AFM, and has expanded its sales division to build a library of more than 50 films for sale to international markets. Thus far, the distributor has acquired Open, a Teddy Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2010, which depicts an inner-city love story between characters that fall out of traditional realms of gender; and Stuck, from director Steve Balderson, an homage to women-in-prison films, starring Karen Black, Susan Traylor, Mink Stole and Jane Wiedlin.

“Every market has a different energy. This year seems to be affording a more relaxed process,” said Michael J. Shoel, president, Ariztical Entertainment.

- Moving Pictures Film & TV has acquired worldwide rights to the dark comedy Miss Nobody and the family film Mayor Cupcake leading into AFM. The company also has hired Stephanie Slack as SVP of worldwide sales & distribution, focusing on building the company’s worldwide television distribution business.

-A new online film distribution platform, IndiePlaya, was on hand at AFM. The service gives independent filmmakers and distributors the resource to sell directly to consumers with marketing tools such as bundling, upselling and offering additional special features. Find out more at IndiePlaya.com.


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