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The American Film Market is changing. With the collapse of the home entertainment market and the disruption of the traditional theatrical business — Disney and Fox merging to concentrate studio power at one end, Netflix and Amazon at the other, cannibalizing the audience for midlevel genre and art house films — the big, A-list projects (think Twilight, The Expendables or The Hunger Games) are few and far between.
“It doesn't fell like many giant packages floating around, those $25 million-$30 million dramas, or the $60 million plus action movies, those are hard to make these days,” says Jonathan Kier Sierra Affinity, whose slate focuses more on mid-budget fare with awards potential, like Vox Lux starring Natalie Portman or Wild Rose with Julie Walters and Jessie Buckley.
"The old AFM model of getting 20 percent of your budget off of international presales — it's much harder to access the level of talent you need to guarantee those numbers," says Fabien Westerhoff of U.K.-based Film Constellation. "But the fragmentation of the marketplace also offers opportunities because there are fewer barriers to entry from new companies and new talent."
Still, the success of upstart distributors A24 (Hereditary), Neon (Three Identical Strangers), Aviron Pictures (The Strangers: Prey at Night) and STX Entertainment (I Feel Pretty) shows how the end of the old AFM model hasn't meant the end of the indie business.
While the size of new projects being shopped at AFM may have gone down, the number and variety of titles on sale has not. The films on THR's AFM 2018 hot list range across genres, styles and budgets, each with a fair shot at becoming the next big thing.
Alex Ritman contributed to this story.
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