‘Carandiru’ leads Brazil’s boffo B.O.

First half of 2003 sees 30% jump vs. a year earlier

RIO DE JANEIRO — Local pics are helping to power the B.O. so far this year, raising hopes the Brazilian film industry will perform at levels not seen in nearly 15 years.

During the first half of 2003, the overall Brazilian box office jumped 30% vs. a year earlier, to 335.39 million reais ($115.65 million). Local pics generated $18.8 million of those receipts — more than triple the amount Brazilian films grossed during the first six months of 2002.

Tickets sales from January to June rose 17% to 52.28 million, of which local pics accounted for 8.86 million. Attendance at local pics surged by 236% vs. the same period last year.

Three Brazilian films are largely responsible for the local boom. Hector Babenco’s prison drama “Carandiru” grossed $10.13 million and sold 4.59 million tickets in 14 weeks. It ranks second in the list of most-watched pics this year, behind only “The Matrix Reloaded.”

Kiddie pic “Xuxa and Dwarves II” grossed $3.95 million and sold 2.3 million tickets. Both “Xuxa” and “Carandiru” were distributed by Warner.

Meanwhile, Carlos Diegues’ “God Is Brazilian,” a Columbia TriStar release, has grossed $3.66 million and sold 1.62 million tickets.

Industryites believe the first half of 2003 bodes well for the full year. They predict Brazilian film will have its best year since 1989, when local pics sold 20 million tickets. The local industry subsequently went into a tailspin, in large part because the government had shuttered its production/distribution agency, Embrafilmes.

Forthcoming local pics already generating buzz include “Casseta & Planeta Go to the Oscars,” a Warner release; “Acquaria” and “Lisbela and the Prisoner,” both Fox releases; and “Mary, the Mother of God’s Son,” to be distribbed by Columbia TriStar.

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