B.O. boom for trio of Brazilian pix

Historic year for local box office

RIO DE JANEIRO — Three Brazilian pics grabbed 66% of the country’s B.O. grosses Oct. 24-26, the best weekend performance by homegrown pics since 1990, in what it turning out to be a boffo year for the local industry.

Jose Alvarenga Jr.’s “Os Normais” (The Regular Ones), which bowed Oct. 24; Moacyr Goes’ “Mary, the Mother of God’s Son”; and Guel Arraes’ “Lisbela and the Prisoner” together grossed $1.62 million out of a total box office of $2.44 million.

The three pics — “Mary” opened Oct. 10, and “Lisbela” has been in theaters since Aug. 22 — accounted for 656,573 tickets out of weekend admissions of 964,454.

Even taking into account the heyday of Brazil’s film industry in the 1970s and 1980s, this performance is outstanding, analysts say. However, a lack of reliable statistics makes it difficult to compare the past decade or so to earlier periods.

“It is not just a historic weekend, but we are actually undergoing a historic year for the local film industry,” said Paulo Sergio Almeida, a film director and president of film marketing company Filme B that publishes film statistics.

Brazilian productions are expected to finish the year with an 18.5% share of B.O. grosses, more than double 2002’s 7.5% .

In terms of attendance, the local pics’ share will reach about 20% this year, from 8% last year, Almeida said.

The strong box office performances of local pics is helping to power the exhibition market, which is expected to grow about 15% in 2003 in terms of B.O. grosses (as measured in local currency) and attendance.

In dollar terms, Brazil’s B.O. is due to rise to about $250 million this year from $150 million last year, but that dramatic increase is largely fueled by the appreciation of the Brazilian real against the U.S. dollar.

Though U.S. films have not improved their performance in 2003 relative to 2002, the majors have distributed virtually all the hit local pics this year and have had a hand in many as co-production partners.

Almeida said this was one of the factors driving the local boom. Other factors include better local productions, the expansion and modernization of the local exhibition sector and investments from Globo Filmes, the theatrical production arm of local media giant Organizacoes Globo, which promotes the films via its vast holdings, including leading broadcaster TV Globo.

“What is left to be seen is whether the local film industry will be able to hold onto this high performance in the coming years. There are some films with potential opening next year, but I do not believe they will perform as well as this year’s films,” Almeida said.

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