'Expendables,' 'Fast Five,' 'Twilight Saga' are among pics

Brazil is raising its profile in Hollywood.

Fox’s animated hit “Rio,” which depicts its namesake city in bright colors, held its world premiere there, as did “Fast Five,” which shot in Rio in November, while the upcoming “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ was lensing elsewhere in the city.

In 2009, Sly Stallone’s “The Expendables” split its locations among New Orleans, Rio and the neighboring beach resort of Mangaratiba. (That production got mired in controversy when helmer Fernando Meirelles’ O2 Filmes, which provided production services for producer Nu Image, claimed the U.S. company failed to pay agreed-upon fees and expenses. O2 is suing Nu Image.)

Other projects shot in Brazil include several smaller-budget pics from the U.S. and Europe, as well as episodes of TV series.

Brazil does not have incentives to stimulate production, but the Rio Film Commission, launched in September 2009, helps international Rio-set productions with logistics, paperwork and other services.

In cases where the commission believes a pic will positively promote the image of Rio, it can pump in some coin. For example, it granted $500,000 to Brazilian companies providing services to “Breaking Dawn.”

Additional Hollywood productions are considering lensing in Rio, says Sergio Sa Leitao, president of Rio government’s film finance company RioFilme and co-founder of the Rio commission. He added that negotiations are ongoing with the producers of “The Samaritan,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, and “The Blind Bastard Club,” with Lenny Kravitz.

Brazil’s cause is helped by its skilled crews, capable production services, easily available extras with diverse ethnic backgrounds and unique natural sites. Weighing on the negative side: the lack of incentives, relatively high production costs and the strong appreciation of the local currency, the real, over the past few years.

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