New Xuxa kidpic eyes B.O. magic in Brazil

In a blockbuster movie season seemingly defined by Hobbits and wizards, Brazilian kids last week were eager for the arrival of still more fantastical creatures: dwarves and Xuxa.

The latest kiddie pic starring Brazilian TV personality Xuxa Meneghel bowed Dec. 14 with producers predicting record admissions for what is turning into an annual holiday franchise.

“Xuxa and the Dwarves” stars the perky star as a good dwarf who fights to save an ecological reserve. Xuxa herself claims to have seen dwarves last year and suggested the film’s theme, says producer Diler Trindade.

The $1.7 million pic is directed by Paulo Sergio de Almeida and Rogerio Gomes. Warners, which has distrib rights, opened the pic on 304 screens, and Trindade expects it to attract between 2.5 and 3 million moviegoers, which would be a new record over the past decade in Brazil.

Xuxa has been breaking attendance records since 1990. “Xuxa Popstar” opened last Christmas and is the current local B.O. record holder with 2.4 million tickets sold. That pic unseated the star’s 1999 release, “Xuxa Requebra,” which sold 2.07 million tickets.

The one hitch: Despite her obvious B.O. appeal, Xuxa doesn’t generate as much in B.O. receipts, since kids’ tickets are typically sold at discount by exhibs. Still, producers are already working on a “Dwarves” sequel, skedded for a 2002 release.

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