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World Cup Has Brazilians Flocking to Theaters

Soccer isn’t the only thing scoring big in Brazil.

The influx of 3.7 million people into the country of nearly 200 million for the duration of the World Cup has produced a box office bonanza.

“Everyone is surprised,” said Steven Bunnell, the EVP of global content programming for Cinemark, the largest theater chain in Brazil with 69 locations. “We thought the business was going to be negatively impacted,” he added noting the lack of day and date releases, most notably for some of the tentpole action films like “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Fox’s “The Fault on Our Stars” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (created by DreamWorks Animation but distributed by Fox) have raked in a combined $25 million at the Brazilian box office.

“Brazil doesn’t play in a match everyday,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of distribution. Pair that with government and school holidays and a month long sports party and the results are favorable.

A fortuitous result considering the fears many theaters owners and studios shared going into the world’s largest sporting event.

Bunnell noted that while it depends on the day, the business as a whole is, on average, up 25% over last year at the same time, which he said is “much more than anticipated.”

Valmir Fernandes, president of Cinemark International pointed to the World Cup 2006, held in Germany, which he said experienced approximately a 40% decrease in in-country ticket sales during that period.

“You listen to those ugly stories and then you go to work telling distributors that you will be there for them, some went for it, some didn’t,” Fernandes said.

Disney’s “Maleficent” has grossed $24 million since it bowed in Brazil just before the beginning of the World Cup. Meanwhile Warner’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” which opened on the same day, has pulled in only $4.2 million.

“I think we’ve proven, even with the World Cup going on, that the young female audience and the family audience will go to movies,” Aronson added.

Brazil is the only team to have played in every World Cup tournament and they’ve emerged victorious five times, more than any other country.

“It could be as simple as having the perfect counterprogramming option,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak. “What could be more different than the World Cup than ‘The Fault in Our Stars?’”

That film in particular is experiencing a windfall of success, besting the opening weekend grosses for each of the first “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” franchises at $1.2 million, $3 million and $2.2 million, respectively. “Fault” grossed $5.6 million its opening weekend.

“People are running to the theater,” added Dergarabedian. “It’s fascinating and so counterintuitive.”

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