Independent movie posters cover the inside of the Loews Hotel during the annual American Film Market (AFM) on Monday. The AFM is the world's largest film market filled with deal making, screenings, seminars and premieres. (photo by Brandon Wise)

THIRD STREET PROMENADE — If there seems to be an influx of movie industry types wearing official-looking badges walking around Downtown in the next few days, you’re right, But fear not that they are overrunning Santa Monica’s streets, because they’re bringing in some serious cash for the city.

For the 20th straight year, the American Film Market will be held in Santa Monica, which means thousands of film industry professionals from around the world will gather in the city to not only bid for rights to the most lucrative independent films, but also spend between $13 and 14 million in the city, said Kim Baker, director of marketing at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

From Nov. 3-10, AFM, the world’s largest film market will take over 30 screens on the Third Street Promenade and the surrounding community, in addition to holding seminars, networking and parties in the city. Organizers expect the closing of more than $800 million in deals on films at every level of production.

More than 700 films will screen during the event. This year, an additional eight screening rooms have been added, with some located at the Fairmont and Le Merigot hotels.

“We look forward to welcoming the expected 7,000 attendees and are sure they will find fabulous pre-holiday shopping, unique entertainment and delectable dining in our city,” said Misti Kerns, president and CEO of Santa Monica’s Convention & Visitors Bureau.

City Hall will earn more than $700,000 in taxes, which will go directly to the general fund, said Kerns.

“AFM needs three things to be a successful show. We need 250,000 square feet of exhibition space. We need at least 20 commercial theaters. We need at least 2,000 hotel rooms. And, we need all three within at least walking distance to each other … that’s why we choose Santa Monica,” said Jonathan Wolf, managing director of AFM, who also pointed to the added benefit of nearby shopping, restaurants and the beach.

Local businesses and hotels will also benefit from the market’s arrival. AFM has agreed to house all of its participants in locally contracted hotels.

“In a time when the nation’s economy and tourism rates are just showing signs of recovery, the economic boost of the AFM is critical for Santa Monica and its businesses — especially during the off season,” said Baker.

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel will serve as the AFM headquarters, converting all of its hotel rooms into exhibitor offices.

As the co-hosting hotel, Le Merigot, which has partnered with AFM since the hotel’s opening, will set aside spaces for offices, seminars and receptions, said Debra Matsumoto, director of sales and marketing at Le Merigot.

More than 80 businesses have committed to making the visitors feel welcome, including the creation of special placards, prix fixe menus and AFM happy hours. Some are even expected to post information for international travelers, such as U.S. tipping customs.

“We definitely will see an increase in sales and business. I think doing a special menu will help because it gives people an incentive to come … it’s a fair price,” said Heather Posner, manager of JiRaffe, which is offering a $44 three-course prix fixe menu.

“Our attendees come from more than 70 different countries from a variety of different cultures and expense accounts. It’s a terrific gesture,” said Wolf.

Founded in 1981, AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, a trade association representing producers and distributors of independent motion pictures and television programs.

Notable films that will premier this year, include “Love, Wedding, Marriage,” starring James Brolin, Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz and Jane Seymour; “The Warrior’s Way,” starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth and Jang Dong Gun; “Barney’s Version,” starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver; and “What’s Wrong with Virginia,” starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Emma Roberts.

For AFM specials, visit www.santamonica.com/afm or download the free official Santa Monica mobile application. Maps and visitor information will be available in the lobbies of all AFM-contracted hotels and the buyers lounge at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

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