SAN SEBASTIAN — Gullane, Brazil’s biggest movie production house, has closed deals with Fox, Warner Bros., Turner, director Walter Salles (“The Motocycle Diaries”) and Germany’s The Match Factory.
This decade, Gullane could put in a good claim to be the most successful and biggest movie production house in Brazil. Headed by brothers Fabiano and Ciao Gullane, it has 13 films in development or production. In 2015, Gullane produced Brazil’s biggest recent international arthouse hit – Sundance winner “The Second Mother.” From 2012, three instalments of the Gullane-produced “Till Luck Do Us Part” have earned a combined $46.6 million, becoming Brazil’s biggest comedy movie franchise of all time.
Even so, Gullane like all of Brazil’s movie industry, has been hit by the country’s dramatic economic downturn which has withered profits, hence company and high-net individuals’ ability to take advantage of tax deductions to invest in the local film industry.
Gullane’s strategic reaction cuts multiple ways:
*It has closed a deal with Fox Film for the studio to co-produce and take Latin American rights on “Incompatible,” a romantic revenge comedy written by “Till Luck Do Us Part” scribe Paulino Cursino. Gullane is now also in negotiations for Fox TV to acquire Brazilian pay TV rights and also take equity in the film. Shooting early 2017, “Incompatible’s” original screenplay is also sourced from Fox, being adapted for Brazil by Cursino.
*Gullane is driving into high-end TV production, inking with Turner Brasil, headed by Rogerio Gallo, to produce for TNT a fiction TV series inspired by Brazilian boxer Avelino Freitas. Marking his first TV work in 21 years, Walter Salles directs from a screenplay by Sergio Machado (“Lower City”).
*Beyond “Incompatible,” Gullane is producing two other big local comedies, the Bacchanalian “Office Party,” now completed, and “Women,” a romantic comedy directed by Portugal’s Leonel Vieira.
*Forging new partnerships, Gullane has pacted with Paris Filmes – in a rare punt on a drama-thriller for the distributor of most of Brazil’s big comedies – to co-produce “The Hanged,’ the awaited next Brazilian movie by Fernando Coimbra, coming off his direction of “Narcos” and U.S. movie “Sand Castle,” with Nicholas Hoult.
*Gullane is driving into English-language production, producing Karim Ainouz’s Japan-set action drama “Neon River,” also Ainouz’s English-language debut. Germany’s The Match Factory has acquired world sales rights.
*Exploring new international distribution tactics, Gullane and Vieira’s Stopline Filmes will day-and-date in Brazil and Portugal the release of “Women,” starring Brazilian megastar Paola Oliveira and Portugal’s Ricardo Pereira, aiming for a two-territory movie hit, which is rare on Brazilian films. Release is scheduled for June/July 2017.
In further deals, Warner Bros. is co-producing “The Morning King,’ the feature directorial debut of editor Daniel Rezende, who won an Academy Award nomination for “City of God” and edited Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.”
The Brazilian film industry’s “biggest problem is not politics. It’s about money, the economic crisis,” Fabiano Gullane said at the San Sebastian Festival.
The sector has three main sources of movie finance in Brazil, he added: Direct subsidies from the Fondo Setorial do Audiovisual which “is going very well”; industry money from Fox, Sony, Warner, HBO and so on; and tax incentives.
Fabiano Gullane explained: “Companies in Brazil that made a good profit in the year can invest part of their tax in film and TV productions. That money is now no longer available, which is our current big challenge.”
Gullane’s reaction has been to attempt to strengthen its international and, on the domestic front, court “big trademarks, such as Hollywood studios.
That is no impossible ask, Gullan said. “When Warner Bros., Fox or Sony come in on a project, they are now making a big effort to finance much more of it, not limiting investment to the R$3 million ($924,000), which qualifies for a tax break,” Gullane said.
Based in a market where art films traditionally underperform, Gullane’s Holy Grail is still to produce movies which run up substantial theatrical box office in and outside Brazil. One crossover prospect is Rezende’s “The Morning King,’ about an artist who becomes a TV clown host on a 1980s’ children show, wins fame and fortune, at expense of alienating his son. Screenplay is by Luiz Bolognesi whose animated feature “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury” won Annecy’s top Golden Crystal in 2013.
Gullane has in post-production “Just Like Our Parents,” the first film by Lais Bodanzky – one of Brazil’s best-known women directors – to address directly the situation of women in Brazil. It turns on a 40-year-old woman who’s “still both a daughter and a mother, has to be great at work but also take more care of her children than her husband,” as screenwriter Luiz Bolognesi has put it. Brazilian TV giant Globo co-produces, ensuring huge marketing muscle in Brazil.
In another potential play for the international market, Gullane has concluded development on animated feature “Noah’s Ark,” co-produced with Walter Salles’ Videocine and Globo, directed by Sergio Machado, and based on the songs of Vinicius de Moraes, who composed “Girl from Ipanema.”