New players pump up the volume

Brazil

Thanks to a boost in local currency and the DVD boom, several new indie players have entered the local theatrical distribution market over the past couple of years. It has created robust competition and higher pic prices in the territory.

The trend started in 2003, when the DVD market was already expanding quickly and Brazil’s real started to appreciate vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar, but the phenomenon has accelerated recently.

Distribs are in some cases completely new players that saw window of opportunity. Take film marketer Richard Avila and helmer Wagner de Assis, who founded Rio-based Film Connection. Since July, they’ve released three pics theatrically and will open three more by the end of the year.

“The favorable exchange rate definitely contributed to our decision to create Film Connection, following two years of market research,” says Avila, adding Film Connection’s acquisitions director Luis Pereira will attend AFM.

There are also a slew of existing homevideo distributors venturing into the theatrical realm to goose their DVD releases.

Rio-based Videofilmes, the production shingle founded by helmers Walter Salles and Joao Moreira Salles in 1987, entered the theatrical distribution market in 2004, shortly after launching their vid operation.

Sao Paulo-based California Filmes, a vid distrib since 1991, became a theatrical distrib last year. And last year, the city gained another homevid company, Focus Filmes, which then launched its theatrical operation in September with Duncan Tucker’s “Transamerica.” (The new distrib has three partners, including Rubens Aranha Jr., an experienced homevideo executive.)

With more buyers, foreign sales companies and producers are finding better prices for their titles in Brazil, notes indie distrib Bruno Wainer, prexy of Downtown Filmes. “They have increased their prices in U.S. dollars. Three years ago, they charged for the Brazilian territory about 30% of the total price for Latin America. Now, they are charging 60%,” he says.

Marco Aurelio Marcondes, theatrical distribution head for indie Europa Filmes/MAM says he’s concerned. “The box office is not growing. Not all independent distributors will manage to survive,” he predicts.

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