AFM buyer attendance dips from 2007<br />

U.S., Canada presence declines 14%

The number of buyers attending the American Film Market fell 6% this year -- to 1,527 from 1,628 -- with the biggest drop in attendance among North American buyers.

The number of buyers from the U.S. and Canada was down 14%, according to figures released Thursday, with 307 attendees picking up buyers' badges this year, compared with 358 last time.

Buyers jetting in from EU countries recorded a marginal fall, with 458 registering from the region, down from 462 during 2007's Santa Monica-set event.

That drop was somewhat offset by a marginal rise of 2% from European countries such as Ukraine, Croatia, Czech Republic and Hungary, with 193 registered from those countries, up from 190.

The one clear growth area for the market was the Middle East. Acquisitions executives from the region grew 25%, to 40 from 32, according to organizers.

Other territories posting increases include Russia (14%), Germany (7%), Hong Kong (42%) and Korea (18%).

Exhibitor-affiliated participants -- spanning executives, producers, talent and guests -- totaled 3,791 and industry attendees such as nonbuyers and sellers stood at 1,745.

Despite the slight drop in numbers, 409 companies from 36 countries exhibited, marking the fifth consecutive year that the AFM has reached full capacity at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Beach Hotel.

AFM 2009 is set to run Nov. 4-11.