AFM 2023: Slow, crammed, and hampered by SAG-AFTRA strike

AFM 2023: Slow, crammed, and hampered by SAG-AFTRA strike
The 2023 edition of the American Film Market (AFM), the largest U.S. market dedicated to international cinema, kicked off in Santa Monica on October 31st. This year, the event was held at the new location, "Le Meridien Delfina," amidst a strike by hotel workers. More than 100 members of “Unite Here Local 11” have joined the picket line since day one, creating challenges for market attendees. The strike persisted throughout the week, with the constant sounds of banging drums and vuvuzelas affecting those staying at the hotel. It's unclear whether an agreement could have been reached before the AFM, as the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) had already signed a multi-year deal to relocate the market from the Lowes Hotel to Le Meridien Delfina in March before the strike by Unite Here Local 11 began.
During this AFM, sellers faced additional challenges when presenting their film slates. Although the writers' strike has ended, producers and agents did not witness the anticipated influx of new scripts due to a significant decline in production during the writers' strike in May. Furthermore, as actors are still on strike, packaging projects with attached talent has been negatively impacted. Without a cast, many packages struggle to secure financing or attract other talent elements.
In the list of high-value projects are Lionsgate's Highlander reboot, which exceeds $100 million, and Kevin Costner's Horizon Westerns. AFM has traditionally been recognized as a genre, and this edition is no exception, as multiple companies offer lower-budget action, thriller, and horror. While agents aren’t optimistic about big deals going down, many sellers reported the number of attendees remained strong, and they still enjoy the chance to meet with their key buyers.