Brazilian fund speeds up slate

RB Cinema I picks up pace of financing

CANNES — New tax breaks and increased potential for local films are providing incentive for Brazil’s RB Cinema I film equity fund to pick up its pace.

RB, Brazil’s top private-sector film equity fund, has unveiled a new round of investments, including three products with leading Brazilian indie producer Total Ent.

Two are mainstream comedies from vet TV fiction directors: Jorge Fernando’s family feud satire “The War of the Rochas” and Wolf Maya’s sexual hangup ensembler “Sex With Love?”

The other recipients: wacky puppet adventure “31 Minutes,” and, outside the Total deal, a generational coming-of-ager “Out of Tune,” from helmer Walter Lima Jr. (“The Oyster and the Wind”), produced by Flavio Tambellini.

RB runs a wide gamut: Its next investments could be two art pics, and a Brazil-China co-production, says manager Thierry Peronne.

While RB’s typical investment of $500,000 per pic is not much by Hollywood standards, with most Brazilian pics costing around $2 million, it can rep a crucial 20%-30% of completion financing.

And RB is no ordinary investor. It has highly capitalized backers: risk capital Rio Bravo Investimentos, paper manufacturer Aracruz Celulose and state-backed BNDES National Bank for Social and Economic Development.

The fund’s execs come from financial backgrounds. It is market-driven, spending coin as often on distribution as production. RB has international ambitions, having just launched a sales agency, Vereda Filmes, with $1.5 million startup capital. On “31 Minutes,” for instance, a near-surreal TV newscast spoof, half RB’s coin covers domestic P&A. The other half helped Vereda snag international rights.

Peronne is bullish about returns. When they click, he points out, Brazilian films can go boffo.

“War” bows in Brazil Jan. 4, the same release slot that saw Daniel Filho’s “If I Were You,” take 3.6 million admissions.

“Out of Tune,” another Vereda pickup, stars Rodrigo Santoro (“300”) and focuses on Brazil’s Bossa Nova music scene.

Peronne is also bullish on raising new investment.

On Dec. 28, the Brazilian government approved new and highly advantageous tax breaks for film investment, open not just to companies but to individuals and broadcasters.

With these advantages, RB will launch a second fund, RB Cinema II, raising finance starting in the second half of 2007. RB II will be capitalized at $10 million-$15 million, says Peronne. Half that money will target exhibition, a growth industry in Brazil. RB is in talks with U.S. equity funds to build a trio of new multiplexes, which would aid distribution on the films it backs.

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