But local producers aren't enjoying the benefits yet

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The Brazilian theatrical market is expanding at a 10% rate in terms of ticket sales and 20% in B.O. terms. Box office is expected to total 1.3 billion reais (U.S. $751 million) this year, breaking for the first time the 1 billion reais barrier.

Two main factors are responsible for the growth: The recent ascent of millions of families into the middle class has allowed Brazilians to spend more on entertainment. In addition, local moviegoers are willing to pay more for 3D screenings, which has caused the average ticket price to rise 9.7% — twice the inflation rate — to $5.42.

The expansion could be even more significant if the country had more 3D-capable screens. Cinemark, the Severiano Ribeiro Group and other exhibitors here are waiting in line for 3D projectors. Brazil had only 97 such screens at the end of 2009 and is expected to have about 200 by the end of this year, according to Paulo Sergio Almeida, president of Internet movie portal Filme B.

Distributors of 3D Hollywood blockbusters, which are driving the increase in tix sales, are virtually fighting for space.

“I am very optimistic about Brazil’s theatrical market, which will certainly expand rapidly over the next three years,” says Almeida. “Exhibitors are expanding their chains. Cinepolis, the main exhibitor in Mexico, recently launched their Brazilian operation and plans to build eight multiplexes with a total of about 150 screens by the end of next year. Note each multiplex will have three 3D-capable screens.”

While the majors and exhibitors are thrilled with the advent of 3D, local producers have little to celebrate. The first Brazilian 3D feature, Mariana Caltabiano’s “Animated Brazil 3D,” will not open until the beginning of next year, and it will have to fight for room in the 3D exhibition circuit.

Since moviegoers weren’t able to see the 3D product that they wanted, the market share of local pics was down 8.7% in the January-July period from 16.5% in the same period last year. That market share is expected to grow with the recent opening of Wagner de Assis’ “Our Home” and the mega-release of “Elite Squad 2″ next month.

Tizuka Yamazaki’s “Aparecida,” a religious-themed pic about Brazil’s national patron saint, could also generate significant B.O. Paramount will release the pic Dec. 17. Another film with strong box office potential is Roberto Santucci’s comedy “De pernas para o ar” (Upside Down), which Downtown will open at the end of this year or in January. Comedies traditionally attract large crowds of moviegoers during the summer vacation period (December to March here in the Southern hemisphere).

For 2011, analysts are pessimistic about the crop of local pics with strong B.O. potential. Jose Alvarenga’s “Cilada.com,” based on a popular TV Globo sketch; Marcos Paulo’s “Assalto ao Banco Central” (Central Bank Heist); Marcus Baldini’s “Little Surfer Girl,” based on the true story of an upper-class young woman who became a prostitute; and Claudio Torres’ “O homem do futuro” (Man of the Future) could perform well.

As for Brazilian kidpics, the only offering with box office potential during the summer vacation is Caltabiano’s “Animated Brazil 3D.” There will be no movies from the established Xuxa and Renato Aragao’s kids franchise in that period. Producer Pedro Rovai, responsible for Tainah, the other important kidpics franchise, will bring out Rosane Svartman’s “Tainah 3″ for the summer of 2011-12.

The list of Brazilian films with international prospects, on the art circuit, in festivals or on TV, includes Jorge W. Atalla’s doc “Sequestro” (Kidnap), about the actions of the Sao Paulo Anti-Kidnap Police Force, and Toni Vanzolini’s “Me and My Umbrella,” a pic for preteens. Both are finished.

The list of films in post-production includes Cao Hamburger’s “Xingu,” Vinicius Coimbra’s “Matraga, a hora e a vez,” Vicente Amorim’s “Dirty Hearts” and Beto Brant’s “Eu receberia as piores noticias dos seus lindos labios.”

Marcos Prado’s “Artificial Paradises,” Karim Ainouz’s “Olhos nos olhos,” Bruno Barreto’s “A arte da perda” and the animated “Peixonauta” also have international potential. All four projects are in pre-production.

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