Growing DVD market leavens box office downturn

· The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Lumiere)
· Buongiorno, notte (Filmes do Estacao)
· Downfall (Europa Filmes)
· Prix du Desir (Mais Filmes)
· Saw 2 (Paris)
2004 STATS
Top film: Spider-Man 2 (Columbia TriStar, $18 million)
Top indie film: Olga (Lumiere, $7.7 million)
Total B.O.: $289.4 million
Releases: 301
Screens: 1,997

RIO DE JANEIRO — Following eight consecutive years of expansion, Brazil’s total box office decreased 10% in the first quarter of this year, over the same quarter a year ago. The total attendance fell 17% in the period.

“The market’s downfall affects all players,” says Adhemar Oliveira, a partner of indie Mais Filmes.

The good news for indies is the rapid expansion of the DVD market. Sales of both DVD players and discs (rental and sell-through) reached record numbers in 2004 and the fast expansion continued this year.

Execs say indies are reducing the size of theatrical openings to focus on the profitable DVD market. Theatrical continues to play a key role, though, because it creates publicity for pics that help the future DVD sales.

In an important step to strengthening the sector’s lobbying power, indies formed the Brazilian Assn. of Independent Distributors (Abradi). Europa Filmes, Marco Aurelio Marcondes and Imagem Filmes joined Abradi in April, which now counts all 10 indie distribs in Brazil among its members.

The Miramax-Disney drama also hit indie Lumiere, which had an exclusive agreement to distrib Miramax pics. Those films accounted for some 80% of its business.

“That was a setback for Lumiere but we had quite some time to prepare ourselves for the new reality and we are now buying from a variety of independent producers,” says Lumiere partner Bruno Wainer.

The TV/cable/satellite market remains stable and does not represent an important business for local indies.

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