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November 2, 2015

How many people attend the American Film Market?

American Film Market insideIn a few days, the 36th annual American Film Market (AFM) opens for business, which will be followed by eight days of furious buying and selling film rights, workshops, screenings and industry gossiping networking.  The AFM is one of the three biggest dates in the annual calendar of film business professionals, alongside the Cannes Marche (hosted in France in May) and the European Film Market (hosted in Berlin in February).  

I took a look at the numbers behind the AFM.  In summary…

  • In 2014, 7,946 people attended the American Film Market
  • The year with the AFM’s highest attendance was 2007, with 8,343 people
  • In 2014, the AFM accredited 1,670 official buyers
  • ‘Accredited buyers’  must have bought at least three feature films (or TV shows) from IFTA members in the past three years
  • In the past ten years, the number of buyers from Japan has fallen by 44%
  • The number of buyers from China has risen by 354% since 2005

How many attendees are at the American Film Market?

Although it’s primarily a trade show for the film industry, anyone is welcome to buy a ticket.  Prices range from $250 for a single day right up to $1,395 for a Platinum Badge which gets you onto the sales floor, to screenings, conferences, cocktails parties, networking and more.

Attendance has risen each year over the past three years, although the 2014 figure of 7,946 was slightly shy of the AFM’s record attendance in 2007 of 8,343.

Attendance at American Film Market

Who’s buying at the American Film Market?

American Film Market dealmakingThe AFM is run by a trade body, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), who represent 145 companies, including production companies, distributors, sales agents, television companies and financial institutions engaged in film finance.  Its principal aim is to provide an environment for companies to distribute film rights, meaning that the most important group of people are the buyers.

Being an official buyer at the AFM is akin to being the birthday girl at a lavish party or being Robert Downey Jr anywhere – i.e. everyone wants to chat to you and treats you like you’re kinda a big deal.  Consequently, IFTA are quite strict about who they grant buyer badges to, restricting them to companies who have bought at least three feature films (or TV shows) from an IFTA member in the past three years.  If you’re approved, then a Buyer’s badge will set you back $495 ($695 if you want to attend the conference as well).  

The number of buyers at the AFM is a useful clue in determining the overall health of the film economy. As you can see below, 2009 was a bad year, with numbers down at the AFM, at the Cannes Marche and many other film trade events.  This was due to an over-supply of films in the early 2000’s which drove down prices and undercut sellers available to pre-sell films in the manner the industry had been used to.   (If you want to hear more about this, then here’s a good article on SSN about what happened).

However, numbers have bounced back and in 2014 the AFM had the highest number to date, 1,670 accredited buyers from 794 companies.  That means that 21% of AFM attendees are accredited buyers.

Buyers 2005-14 American Film Market

Nationality of American Film Market buyers

In 2008, 24% of accredited buyers at the AFM were from Asia but by 2014 that had grown to 31%.

Buyers at 2014 American Film Market

Over the past decade, the AFM has had accredited buyers from 80 different countries in total.  Unsurprisingly, the country sending the largest number of buyers to attend the American Film Market is America, with 331 accredited buyers attending in 2014 (20% of all buyers).  

Countries with buyers at American Film Market 2

The country sending the second largest contingent in 2014 was Japan, although their numbers have shrunk considerably in the past decade, falling by 44%.  The charts below show the change in the number of accredited buyers at the AFM between 2005 and 2014, for the 20 countries with the highest AFM attendance rates.

Change in buyers at American Film Market

The table below gives you the fine detail on the number of officially accredited buyers at the American Film Market over the past 10 years.

Country2014201320122011201020092008200720062005
USA331349327283278273266316287277
Japan128131152128115119168230220227
Korea15515413811610110979676468
Germany102102110109797788828783
France69747083798099938391
United Kingdom69606173636364686261
Italy45403647534347575545
Australia42424450474541424641
Spain40413229334040424341
Russia40454847423232282023
Canada33434123263141423739
Brazil40203228263232524447
Turkey36333937332839453625
Netherlands28232425273337363239
Hong Kong40353229273527192115
China59424037231417131313
Mexico26282619232531313623
Argentina20171817182423212320
Belgium16201614171521212331
Singapore20212120251915121119
Thailand21161719181517151328
Poland10111315141522241620
Taiwan332519121010871520
Switzerland15152015171517121614
Denmark16141419131111101622
Greece108913141819171616
United Arab Emirates171816201212131069
South Africa1191110121110142319
Czech Republic13111111141313151114
Sweden66101014610172521
Lebanon141110111012148109
India1299151261014910
Israel991089910121214
Portugal3759101015111216
Indonesia87136791114109
Iceland97910996788
Colombia11798899568
Malaysia1091084677115
Ukraine6995668995
Croatia47674781187
Hungary78753210859
Philippines1011631446611
Romania27633108787
Norway12224879109
Bulgaria5533534285
New Zealand8634663123
Luxembourg4445344444
Vietnam11655541100
Slovenia1455433246
Uruguay4453324343
Peru3345533332
Chile4433223235
Monaco1353335421
Slovakia2222225453
Serbia3123544102
Venezuela4222223222
Austria4022112233
Lithuania2422222220
Mongolia3438000000
Kuwait1102043223
Trinidad & Tobago4221211111
Finland1013121221
Ecuador1111111111
Nigeria0111100000
Sri Lanka0000001111
Estonia2000000000
Myanmar2000000000
Kenya0200000000
Kazakhstan0020000000
Pakistan0011000000
Egypt0002000000
Puerto Rico0000100100
Cambodia0001000000
Costa Rica1000000000
Iran1000000000
Iraq1000000000
Afghanistan0010000000
Bangladesh0000000100
Cyprus0000000001
West Indies0000000000

Epilogue

I’m very grateful to the AFM for providing me with the data on official buyers.  Other data came from the AFM site, press releases and film trade publications.

The country assigned to each buyer is linked to where they live, not where they operate. While most buy for that country, some buy for other countries too. For example, some US-based buyers represent a US satellite office of a non-US company or they are a middle-man buying for countries that have few buyers at AFM.

I have refrained from using these numbers to make any bold claims about the health of the film industry in one particular country from one year to the next.  Many things can cause a country’s attendance numbers to fluctuate slightly each year, and the raw number of people a country sends does not necessarily tell how their film economy is faring (it doesn’t take into account seniority of attendees, films bought, money spent, etc). 

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