Asian market sputters

Some 'very disappointed' in number of sales

Despite a late surge in activity Sunday, exhibitors and buyers are less than pleased with this year's Asian Film Market, which wraps today, blaming global economic and local sales conditions.

Some exhibitors are "very disappointed" by the quietness of the market, including Kentaro Yoshida, manager of international sales, merchandising and licensing at Japan's Tohokushinsha Film Corp., whose sales office is located on the Seacloud Hotel's sixth floor, where there was more foot traffic.

The company's "My Darling of the Mountains" is in the lineup at the Pusan International Film Festival, and its car-racing animation title "Redline," in production for five years, has received the most offers. But Yoshida predicted that deals would close at November's American Film Market.

"There are too few buyers, and Korean buyers told us that except for Hollywood blockbusters, most films aren't doing well (at the boxoffice) here this year, even for domestic films," he said. "That's why they don't want to acquire new films."

Despite that, some sellers are having a little more luck.

After kicking off the market with presales to Singapore's Festival Films and Star Group, Pusan's A Window on Asian Cinema title "Cape No. 7" claimed 2008 boxoffice supremacy in Taiwan, hitting the NT$300 million ($9.3 million) mark.

Also, Korea's FineCut sold North American rights to Noh Yeong-seok's "Daytime Drinking." Japan's Eleven Arts plans to release the film in 30 North American cities.

But still, for most, Asian Film Market sales have been hard to come by.

"The market in Pusan has been shrinking every year. Many buyers are choosing to go to (the Tokyo fest's) TIFFCOM instead," Yoshida said. (partialdiff)