Film booms in Brazil despite economy

April box office confirms upward trend

As in the U.S., Brazil’s film sector seems to be booming despite the recession.

April B.O. results, the best of the period since 2004, confirmed the upward trend. In the January-April period, total box office in Brazil amounted to 305 million reais ($148 million), up 33.2% over the same period last year. Total attendance reached 36.2 million, a 30.8% increase.

“People have a bit more money for entertainment and are seeking inexpensive options. Going to the movies is cheaper than attending concerts, plays or soccer matches,” says Pedro Butcher, editor of local film trade magazine Filme B.

Paramount’s senior VP for Latin America Jorge Peregrino believes the strength of the current group of films is the main factor for the Brazilian sector’s expansion this year. The crop of local pics is particularly strong this year, says both Butcher and Peregrino, citing vet helmer Daniel Filho’s comedy “If I Were You 2,” which opened Jan. 2 and sold more than 6.08 million tickets, the highest number of admissions for a local pic since 1978’s “Lady on the Bus.” Jeremias Moreira’s rural drama “The Boy on the Ranch’s Gate” and Jose Alvarenga’s comedy “Divan” also had significant performances.

The market share of local pics reached 21.3% in January-April 2009, up from 11.5% in the same period last year.

“The theatrical market in Brazil usually grows when we have a strong offer of local features, which is the case this year,” Peregrino says.

Led by Hollywood fare, foreign pics, which continue to hold the lion’s share of the market, are also performing well. The foreign pics’ total B.O. in the initial four months of this year has increased by 19.8%.

Peregrino and Butcher say they believe total attendance this year will break the critical 100 million mark, a feat last achieved in 2004.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” had the largest opening weekend this year in Brazil, and a strong performance in May, indicating the upward trend continues, with plenty of anticipation for Hollywood’s summer offerings.

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