Producers worldwide are capitalizing on the global frenzy set to hit Brazil, starting with the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and continuing with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment leads the charge with “Pele,” a biopic based on the early life of legendary Brazilian soccer player Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele.
Brazil’s Gullane Prods. is prepping Carlos Cortez’s Olympics-set “4 x 100.”
In the U.K., Mike Downey’s London-based F&ME is making docu “Street Kids United II” — the second in a series — to coincide with the second Street Child Soccer World Cup, also hosted by Rio in 2014.
London-based Spring Films is prepping its first Brazilian project, “The Beautiful Game,” a three-part TV skein that producer-scribe Ed Dallal says will explore the culture and people of Brazil through the prism of soccer. “The Beautiful Game” will air on Canal Brasil.
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However, some Brazilian filmmakers are steering away from soccer-themed pics.
“In Brazil we’re always amazed to see how (soccer) films rarely work well in the market,” says helmer Fernando Meirelles. “It’s called ‘the curse of football.’ ”
He adds that soccer, more than any other sport, is very difficult to shoot.
A recent soccer-themed pic, “Heleno,” fizzled at the box office even with a star turn by Rodrigo Santoro.
Despite this, “everybody is talking about the upcoming World Cup,” says Migdal Filmes’ producer Iafa Britz, who knows of various local film and TV shingles, including hers, with soccer-related projects in development.
“We’re figuring out how to boost more sports-themed films,” says RioFilmes’ Sergio Sa Leitao. “I’m speaking about it in each and every panel or conference that I take part in.”
Rio Film Commissioner Steve Solot says, “There has been a general increase in on-location shooting in Rio because of the global focus on the city, but it’s not centered on sports-related content yet.”
Despite the B.O. history, at least two Brazilian soccer pics are in pre-production. Marcos Prado, a partner with Jose Padilha in Zazen Prods., is helming a $7.5 million pic about the turf wars between soccer fan clubs in “No na garganta” (A Lump in the Throat). Crisis Prods. is prepping “Aspirantes,” about young, aspiring soccer players, with helmer Ives Rosenfeld attached.
Documentaries in the works include Renato Terra’s “Fla-Flu,” which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first match between Rio’s arch-rival soccer teams Flamengo and Fluminense.
Docs tend to attract no more than 100,000 admissions in Brazil but Terra has a good feeling about this project. “The timing is perfect to make a film about all the passion that involves soccer,” Terra says.
This year, only local comedies have done well at the box office, led by Felipe Joffily’s raunchy “E, ai, comeu?” (“So, You Get Laid Yet?”), which has grossed $12 million to date.
Another sure-fire genre is the musical biopic — at least half a dozen are in development. The BBC has boarded F&ME’s U.K.-German-Brazilian music doc, “Children of the Revolution: This Is Rio,” to be helmed by Julien Temple.
“Music is deeply steeped in the imagination of people here,” says Downtown Filmes’ Bruno Wainer. “Our musicians are, along with our soccer idols, the most popular stars in Brazil.”
World rushes soccer stories | Exhibs roll out screens | Brazilian pics bubbling under