Anxious film market shows a little life
Film buyers and sellers breathed an almost audible sigh of relief Wednesday when the Tokyo Film Market (Tiffcom) opened with respectable levels of corridor traffic and activity.Market organizers had reconfigured the corridors of the 40th floor of the Mori Tower in the Roppongi district to accommodate more booths and sales pitches. By far the largest contingent taking booth space are Japanese film and TV companies, with Koreans a distant second. Buyers appear to be a mixed bunch from the Asian region, with Chinese numbers up and European and North American distributors making up a tiny proportion of foot traffic. Clearly market organizers have provided greater hospitality incentives to several buyers and sellers to attract or hold their presence. Tiffcom also boasted the usual contingent of marketing stunts — girls in Manga character costumes and blue hair — and new pitches. Off the market floor, distributor-turned-producer Hexagon Pictures put on a slate pitch that raised smiles when former Gaga acquisitions exec-turned-helmer Fuyuhiko Nishi started breaking out the moves with 17-year-old karate champ Rina Takeda in a choreographed promo for $2 million actioner “High Kick Girl.” Back on the market floor a trickle of deals were inked. Klockworx licensed a North American deal for erotic title “Secrets of a Desperate Housewife” with Cinema Epoch and “Wild Racers” with Thailand’s Right Beyond. “It seems this year that a number of Asian buyers have made a choice to come here over Pusan (South Korea) or AFM,” said Klockworx’s Kana Koido. Buyers and investors also appreciated the close proximity of Tokyo Film Festival screenings, the market and the project mart, which was a buzz-generating factor absent from the Pusan Film Festival earlier this month. Still, first day appearances can be misleading at a notoriously front-end-skewed event. In previous years, the three-day market has slowed markedly on the second day and become almost deserted on its final day. Thursday may bring a clearer picture. Tiffcom shutters on Friday, and the Tokyo Film Festival wraps on Sunday.