Gullane Brothers Ride Brazil’s Support to Commercial, Arthouse Success

Brazil’s entertainment industry is the envy of Latin America: It boasts eight years of box office growth, local movies that grabbed an 18.6% market share last year and strong government financial support. So it makes sense that Sao Paulo-based brothers Fabiano and Caio Gullane, who have built one of the best reputations in the Brazilian film industry, are poised to take their

production house, Gullane Filmes, to greater heights.

The brothers started their business out of a van, nearly 20 years ago. Now, they frequently produce local pics with Hollywood studios, and in turn, U.S. majors often pick up their movies for distribution. The Gullanes also have increased their output of projects for TV, and they’ve launched a distribution arm.

Gullane Filmes is moving forward with a 14-title movie-development/production slate, unthinkable in Brazil just a few years back. But thanks to a R$1.2 billion ($480 million) package of public-sector incentives for film and TV production and distribution, unveiled in July by Brazil president Dilma Rousseff, companies like Gullane’s can expand. Only France boasts stronger state support.

Highlights of the Gullane slate include comedy “Till Luck Do Us Part 3”; new movies by Lais Bodansky, Luiz Bolognesi and Fernando Coimbra, all of whom have had success with the brothers in the past; the Fox co-produced and distributed “Heliopolis,” a favela-set tale about students in a music class; and the animated “Noah’s Ark,” co-produced with Walter Salles’ VideoFilmes. “Ark” uses songs of the late Vinicius de Moraes, who co-wrote “The Girl From Ipanema.”

The brothers’ working relationship marks a classic division of labor. “Caio focuses on talent relationships and the films’ physical production, and I head up film financing, co-production, distribution, strategy, festivals and international sales,” Fabiano Gullane says.

Their plan is three-pronged, he adds: They develop local commercial movies, arthouse pics, and that elusive Holy Grail of Latin American movie production — crossover projects they hope will click in Brazil and abroad.

Gullane teamed with Disney’s Buena Vista Intl. on its latest film, Tomas Portella’s romantic comedy “Love Stories,” which stars husband-and-wife team Gregorio Duvivier and Clarice Falcao of the Porta dos Fundos comedy troupe, whose weekly YouTube Web shorts command more than 10 million hits.

One potential crossover title, Gullane says, is Anna Muylaert’s “Where Is She?” a standout at Locarno’s Carte Blanche pics-in-post showcase. The film follows a live-in domestic who horrifies her middle-class bosses when her daughter passes the first round of exams for Sao Paulo’s elite architectural school.

Gullane Filmes now has three business lines, adds Caio Gullane: movie production, TV production and distribution. Its distribution arm released Miguel Gomes’ cult arthouse title “Tabu,” another Gullane international co-production.

The brothers grew the television side of the company to take advantage of 2012 regulations that boost local production by obliging pay TV operators to air 3½ hours of primetime Brazilian content per week. They just wrapped “The Man of Your Dreams,” a remake of Juan Jose Campanella’s Argentine original, for HBO, and are developing medical series “Basic Unit” with Brazil’s Universal Channel.

Indeed, premium TV productions, made with strict budgets, look to be a way forward for Gullane, and for Brazil’s production sector at large.

Gullane launched its film biz in 1999, starting production on Bodansky’s “Brainstorm,” which marked the first major role for Rodrigo Santoro. Its two-pic comedy franchise “Till Luck Do Us Part” gave it the biggest local movie hit in Brazil in 2012 and 2014, grossing a combined $36.1 million. The 3D “Amazonia,” a jungle-set family adventure, and one of its international co-productions, closed the Venice Fest in 2013. Bolognesi’s animated film, “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury,” took the top prize at France’s 2013 Annecy Festival, while Coimbra’s “A Wolf at the Door” won kudos at several fests.

Clearly the Gullanes’ pipeline is packed. “In terms of production,” says Fabiano, “Brazil is living a special moment.”

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