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Meirelles’ 02 Filmes Bows O2 Play with Felipe Braga’s ‘Latitudes’

Theatrical opening for feature format completes Internet, TV play for International Emmy nominated production

Nominated Monday for an International Digital Emmy Award, Alice Braga-starrer “Latitudes,” a pioneering TV, Internet and feature film production, will be released Friday in Brazil by o2 Play, the new theatrical/VOD distribution unit of Fernando MeirellesO2 Filmes.

Directed by Felipe Braga – no relation to Alice Braga – who co-wrote the screenplay for Stephen Daldry’s “Trash,” set up at London’s Working Title,” “Latitudes” will bow in a full feature-length cut in four Sao Paulo cinema theaters. It opens March 14 in Rio de Janeiro. “Latitudes” will also bow in some major state capitals. The film’s performance in Sao Paolo may determine the scale of a national rollout, said Felipe Braga.

Alice Braga’s first experience as a producer – “Latitudes” is set up at her Los Bragas production house, where she partners with Rita Moraes – and also produced by Marcos Brandao at House Entertainment, “Latitudes” will also be O2 Play’s first release. It bows on VOD (iTunes and Google Play) in March, immediately after a panel at Austin’s SXSW, where Braga will discuss its trans-media experience, Braga explained.

Shot at seven luxury hotels around the world – including the Venice Danieli Hotel’s Doge Dandalo Suite, as well as London’s 45 Park Lane and Paris’ Mandarin Oriental – “Latitudes” is backed by branded entertainment partnerships, led by P & G, and featuring Heineken, Fiat and Guanta.

The production stars Braga as a powerful fashion editor, who has a fling with Jose (Daniel de Oliveira, seen in “Cazuza: O Tempo Nao Para,” also a producer), a sought-after photographer. Both are constantly on international assignments. That facilitates encounters across the world, but presents new challenges for a stable long-term relationship.

Also written by Felipe Braga, “Latitudes” first bowed online in eight 11-minute segs from Aug. 28 on a channel co-created with YouTube. On Sept. 2, “Latitudes” debuted on TNT Latin America. The pan-regional cable channel aired 25-minute episodes, mixing fiction and behind-the-scenes material. (For the first episode, with English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/Latitudesmovie/)

After each premiere, content was made available on demand on the project platform. A “Latitudes” Facebook fan page and Instagram account featured the main characters’ photos from their travels. The Bragas and De Oliveira took part in three Google Hangouts with audiences.

“Latitudes” received 2.5 million views on YouTube. To boost its audience, the producers orchestrated previews on other platforms: Web sites dedicated to cinema, even Facebook pages of sponsors. Episode 7, for instance, premiered 12 hours before its release on YouTube, through an unlisted YouTube link, on Heineken’s fan page on Facebook, Felipe Braga noted.

TNT ratings were “simply average,” Braga said, though, he added that six months later “Latitudes” is still into re-runs. The TV skein won Brazil’s most important critics’ award, the Sao Paulo Art Critics’ Assn. Award for best series.

The production’s prior and current YouTube play – “Latitudes” now has a channel on YouTube with English-subtitles – http://www.youtube.com/Latitudesmovie/ – posed a large challenge for its theatrical exhibition, Braga recalled.

“The theatrical release has been a big struggle. Exhibitors went crazy about the fact that ‘Latitudes’ is available for free online, in episodes,” Braga said. Many exhibitors asked the producers to pull “Latitudes” during theatrical play.

“We said that would contradict our will to empower the public and let people decide where, when and how to watch. It took a lot of debating to convince them this was the way to go.”

One “good lesson” from multi-platform release, Braga added, was that “different platforms have different audiences. They are cumulative. Whoever watched it on the Internet would not likely watch it on television.”

There may be demographic overlap, however.

“The irony is that while we are presenting the feature now to a different public, which supposedly likes feature films and did not have the chance to watch ‘Latitudes’ elsewhere, we realize via the project’s social channels how much the audience who watched it online is excited to pay for a ticket, enter a dark movie theater, and watch it all over again – now with a new beat, a new rhythm, a brand new soundtrack and everything you expect from a proper feature film.”

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