DOWNTOWN — Cheaper hotel rooms, better movie theaters and a more exciting nightlife are some of the reasons why the American Film Market, one of the world’s largest gatherings of independent filmmakers and producers, is considering leaving Santa Monica in 2013 for Downtown Los Angeles, according to a statement released Thursday by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, which produces the event.
Discussions with Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, the current home of AFM through 2012, are continuing, according to the statement, but it’s clear that the alliance is favoring L.A. Live, which bills itself as the “most entertaining place on the planet,” boasting the Nokia Theatre, Staples Center, the Conga Room, numerous restaurants and bars, the Grammy Museum and two high-end hotels.
The alliance board held a telephone conference earlier this week to discuss a possible move and gave the green light for further discussions. The AFM has been held at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for the past 20 years, but that contract is up after the November 2012 event.
AFM screenings have been held in several theaters on the Third Street Promenade In Santa Monica, while some conference events have been held at other area hotels.
The Santa Monica Loews Hotel had recently asked for an increase in what the AFM pays which started discussions about a move. Last week, the Loews corporate executives came back with a revised offer to try and keep AFM. The announcement indicates that IFTA is still considering a change.
“In order to provide the best environment, resources and value for the world’s buyers and sellers, we are negotiating to make the L.A. Live district the AFM’s new home for 2013,” the statement reads.
“The L.A. Live district will allow us to grow all segments of the AFM — market, conferences and the celebration of film — and make the AFM more inclusive for the entire motion picture industry.”
A possible move has some local business leaders on edge, concerned that losing a significant event like AFM would hurt local businesses that rely on the influx of cash during the fall, when tourism tends to slow down. During the market, which is scheduled from Nov. 2- 9 at Loews, theaters are packed daily as are many hotels, restaurants and retail stores.
In 2007, the market was expected to generate between $15 million and $17 million in total spending.
“There is no deal yet,” officials with the alliance said in the statement.
“We appreciate the attractiveness of Santa Monica and we are continuing discussions with the Loews, but relocating to L.A. Live would provide:
• Lower costs for sellers and buyers. Exhibition costs would drop for sales companies and hotel costs would be lower for everyone;
• Better showcase opportunities for films. Regal Cinemas has an 800 stadium-seat premiere screen and the Nokia Theatre can accommodate premieres for 7,000.
• Increased business efficiency. All theaters and screening rooms would be located within a five-minute walk from the market. Additionally, by 2014, there will be more hotel rooms in the L.A. Live district than there are within miles of the Loews.
• More dining, sports and major entertainment options for travelers from around the world. From concerts and sporting events to fine dining and exciting nightlife, the L.A. Live district and surrounding area offers more than any other market venue.”
The move would put the market somewhat closer to the affiliated AFI Fest, which runs Nov. 3-10 in Hollywood.
While convenience and cost savings are key, one question remains: will foreign filmmakers and visitors want to spend a week in Downtown L.A. instead of at the beach?
It is estimated that $800 million worth of transactions will be made during the market’s run.