AFM: Market Attendance Hits Six-Year High

More than 8,000 film buyers and sellers descend on Santa Monica for the American Film Market, which kicks off Wednesday.

SANTA MONICA -- The market climate may be particularly chilly heading into this year's AFM, with most industry attendees expecting a dip in business compared with 2012's event, but that hasn't impacted attendance figures, which hit a six-year high, according to official figures released by AFM organizers, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, on Tuesday.

More than 8,000 participants, including some 100 new buyers, are set to storm the Loews Hotel when the AFM opens for business Wednesday. Mainland China in particular has upped its AFM presence with a record number of firms from the region set to attend. Nearly all of China's top producers, distributors and film execs are expected to attend, including state-owned giant China Film Group, and commercial operations such as Enlight Media, Bona, Huayi Brothers and Beijing Galloping Horse Film.

STORY: Recent Box-Office Bombs Make AFM Buyers Nervous

Some 357 exhibitors from 33 countries will screen more than 400 titles at the AFM, the vast majority of them market premieres and 75 celebrating their world premiere in Santa Monica.

A-list names including the likes of Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe attached to the various projects pitching for international sales should draw buyer attention and buzz. But the recent string of AFM sales hits turned box office flops – think Ron Howard's Rush, Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate or even Ender's Game, which has underperformed internationally – means caution, not risk taking, will be top of the agenda for global distributors even as they pour into AFM in ever-increasing numbers.