RIO DE JANEIRO – Feted for partner Fernando Meirelles’ movies – “City of God,” “Blindness” –O2 Filmes, one of Brazil’s biggest production houses, is now living Brazil’s TV revolution, with 13 series in development or phases of production.
In another departure, O2 Filmes, owned by Meirelles, Andrea Barata Ribeiro and Paulo Morelli, who world premiered his “Sheep’s Clothing” at Rio on Friday, will also produce its first big local comedy, Fabio Mendonca’s femme-focused “Reveillon.”
O2 Filmes has also optioned cult Argentine comic book “Mujeres Alteradas,” for adaptation as a Brazilian movie.
In O2 Filmes TV mix:
*Fox Intl. Channels unveiled Wednesday “7 Minutes,” Morelli’s six-seg one-hour tale of old friends’ reuniting to pull classy bank heists in Brazil’s interior. O2 Filmes is completing screenplays for an early 2014 shoot.
*Morelli comes off show-running “Edgar’s Tales,” also for FICB, a revamp of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, set on Sao Paulo’s mean streets, which bowed April.
*Globo femme-skewed satellite/cable TV channel GNT is airing 13 half-hour “Beleza” (Beauty), about Brazil’s cosmetic surgery craze.
*For National Geographic, O2 Filmes produced this year’s docu-series, “A Verdade de cada um,” where people weigh in on hot-button issues.
*O2 Filmes is producing another yet-to-be-announced series for Discovery, and has a deal for two more half-hours, also undisclosed, with HBO, for which it produced “Destination: Sao Paulo,” and “Destination: Rio.”
Meanwhile, on free-to-air, Fernando Meirelles is readying “Os Experientes,” (Experienced) a third-age drama featuring 60s-65s, to shoot from late October for Globo’s main free-to-air channel.
Two factors drive Brazilian TV production boom: New regs, introduced March TV Research.2013, obliging pay TV networks to program at least 3.5 hours of Brazilian TV each week; Payboxes’ hunger in an escalating market for original programming. Fox, for example, will finance “7 Minutes” without using it to fulfill quota obligations.
With 30.5 million subs, Brazil is already the fifth biggest pay TV market in the world, after China (312.9 million), India (158.0 million), the U.S. (106.8 million ) and Russia (32.3 million). Latin American pay TV households will grow from 54.9 million to 84.6 million in 2018, per Digital TV Research.
“This is a historical moment for independent production in Brazil,” Barata Ribeiro said at the Rio Festival’s RioMarket where she talked through o2 Filmes’ co-production of Stephen Daldry’s Rio’-set movie “Trash.”
She added: “The change is huge. In twenty years, we produced five TV series. In the last year, in development, production or post-production, we have thirteen.”
“Sometimes, you can’t now access the crew or writing talent you want,” Barata Ribeiro said.
Star thesps are often tied up with Globo, and on big feature films.
But “This is an opportunity to bring on a new generation, new actors, actresses,” she insisted.
In an advantageous deal for independent producers, under the obligation, they take a 51% equity position in projects; pay TV operators have 49%. Rights revert to producers after two years, allowing them, crucially, to build up a portfolio of assets.
O2 Filmes has historically looked to commercials production for Brazil’s huge ad market to drive revenues. By 2014, with an estimated worth of $22.2 billion, goosed by a middle-class making up 58% of the population, Brazil’s ad market will be the fifth biggest in the world, per U.S. Media Consulting.
In Brazil’s new TV age, however, movie production houses have a new and potentially viable alternative of attaining economic sustainability by simply diversifying into TV production.
Production for pay TV also allows producers to make quality entertainment for Brazil’s swelling lower middle-class that has shown to date scant interest in flocking to quality movies.
“Reveillon” is a tragedy-tinged comedy, said its director, Fabio Mendonca, who helmed the fiction comedy hour “Super Sincero,” about someone who’s too candid for their own good.
Set at a New Year’s Eve party, like so many Brazilian hit comedies of late it taps into the insecurities of a country hurtling towards modernity turning on “crazy women who are looking for men, unexpected embarrassments,” Mendonca said. There is also a murder, he added.
Paris Filmes, a big and hugely successful indie distributor will release in Brazil, Barata Ribeiro said.
With “Reveillon,” O2 Filmes is looking to reach out to larger audiences.
“A lot of people make beautiful movies, which go well, sell 500,000 tickets. But we’d like to reach more than one million people,” Barata Ribeiro said.
Also targeting femme auds, but with strong potential male crossover, “Mujeres alteradas” is a comic strip created by Arentina’s Maitena Burundarena and published by Argentina’s Para Ti from 1994 and Spain’s Sunday paper El Pais Semanal, It lays on the line what women really think of men, and femme frustration and fears.
“Mujeres” was later collected in five graphic novels, translated into 12 languages. Penguin Books published “Mujeres” in the U.S.
The big screen makeover would again target wider audiences, with an intelligent humor and high production standards: An O2 hallmark down the years.