RIO DE JANEIRO Brazilian film execs fear 2008’s box office will prove disappointing, despite a fair amount of incentive coin available for production.
In the past few years, local producers have tapped into an annual average of 150 million reais ($85 million) in federal incentives, the bulk of it for feature films. On top of the existing incentives, in 2008, the government will release an additional $21 million through the new Audiovisual Sector Fund for production, distribution and exhibition.
But analysts think this year’s slate of some 75 Brazilian pics isn’t particularly promising, and that it’s uncertain whether they will be able to expand or even maintain 2007’s 12.5% market share for local product.
“We will have many Brazilian features opening in 2008, but I do not identify any production with excellent market potential,” says Jorge Peregrino, Paramount Pictures Intl.’s Senior VP for Latin America.
The first potentially strong pic has completely failed. Rudi Lagemann’s kidpic “Xuxa em um sonho de menina” (“Xuxa’s Girl Dream) sold just 26,800 tickets and grossed $113,000 on its first weekend Dec. 21-23. The opening indicates the pic will be way behind the franchise’s usual average of 2 million tickets per pic.
An additional problem is the lack of a comedy release in January. For the past three years, one local comedy has had a strong showing in January, which is the summer vacation here. Jorge Fernando’s “A Guerra dos Rochas” (Rocha’s War) was designed to be this year’s January comedy, but delays caused Fox to re-sked for April 18.
Other titles that look to have commercial potential include Bruno Barreto’s “174,” due from Paramount in the second half of the year. The plot centers on the life of the man who hijacked a public bus in 2000 in Rio. “Sexo ou Amor” (Sex or Love), a comedy from broadcaster TV Globo’s vet TV programming director Wolf Maya, is thought to have strong B.O. promise.
Marcus Figueiredo’s “Didi e a pequena ninja” (Didi and the Small Ninja) will be released by Buena Vista on July 11, during the school winter break.
The list of potentially strong openings also includes a new pic from Breno Silveira, who directed 2005’s “Two Sons of Francisco,” the local pic with the highest B.O. since the early 1990s. Sony has skedded “Era uma vez” (Once Upon a Time) for March.
This list of potential hits is too short, in the view of Bruno Weiner, general director of indie distrib Downtown Filmes: “The problem is not the lack of money to produce. What we lack are films with market ambitions. We must have at least 15 films every year with strong market potential, not just six.”
New pics from the two Brazilian helmers with the most prominent international reputations, Walter Salles and Fernando Meirelles are also in the works. “Linha de Passe,” directed by Salles and Daniela Thomas, is sure to have a strong fest life, but may also work as a commercial title. As for Meirelles’ “Blindness,” which has strong commercial appeal, the discussion is whether or not it is a Brazilian pic, since it is an English-language production with an international cast and producers.