Brazil’s box office generates optimism

Actor Johnny Depp, left, and director Tim Burton hope “Alice in Wonderland” is box office success in Brazil. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

Actor Johnny Depp, left, and director Tim Burton hope “Alice in Wonderland” is box office success in Brazil. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

By Gabryel Weikamp for Infosurhoy.com—08/04/2010

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Brazil has established itself among the largest movie markets, as more than 110 million went to theaters in 2009, eighth-most in the world.

The country’s moviegoers grew by 25% compared to 2008, according to Rio de Janeiro’s union of cinematographic distributing companies. Ticket sales at Brazilian cinemas rose by about 33% in 2009, approaching the R$1 billion (US$574 million) mark.

“We exceeded our expectations and these results now give us a preview of what’s to come,” says Jorge Peregino, the union’s president.

The local movie market’s forecast is for theaters nationwide to see a 10% increase in customers this year, as the 3D fad is expected to spur ticket sales.

“Avatar,” the science fiction saga that earned film director James Cameron three Oscars, is a major reason why projections are so high. Cameron’s production, the highest-grossing movie of all time – with US$10 billion in ticket sales – has been among Brazil’s five highest-grossing movies ever since hitting the theaters two months ago.

Throughout Brazil, “Avatar” occupies the top spot in ticket sales, ahead of “Sherlock Holmes,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks 2” and “Premonition 4.”

“Cameron’s movie has filled all the theaters and ‘Avatar’ fever is still going strong,” says Hermes Leal, a journalist and TV director. “Brazil is among the world’s top ten movie markets, surpassing such big consumers as Mexico, Argentina, and Austria – all opinion shapers.”

With six Oscar statuettes and having earned accolades worldwide, “The Hurt Locker,” which chronicles the story of an American army bomb squad stationed in Iraq, also has drawn crowds in Brazil.

The movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow – formerly married to Cameron – has topped the list of the five most popular movies in Brazil for several weeks. After a tepid reception during its pre-release in February, it climbed to the top of the film charts and has been distributed nationwide.

Other foreign offerings expected to stand out in 2010 are the classics “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Wolf Man,” and “Robin Hood.” “The Lovely Bones” from “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Martin Scorcese’s “Shutter Island,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, and “The Book of Eli,” which features Denzel Washington and is currently leading Brazil’s box office receipts, also are expected to drive Brazilians to theaters.

And it should continue, as highly anticipated “Iron Man 2” is expected to be released in May followed by 3D productions such as “Toy Story 3,” “Shrek Forever,” featuring the world’s favorite ogre, “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Alice in Wonderland,” starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice.

But Brazilian productions also are generating high expectations. Among the favorites are the children’s fare “High School Musical — the Challenge,” the Brazilian version of the Disney Channel money-maker; “Chico Xavier,” which centers on the life of the 20th century’s best-known spiritist Brazilian leader; “Bem Amado,” starring Marco Nanini in the role of corrupt mayor Odorico Paraguassu; “Bruna Sufistinha,” the story of a former prostitute, Rachel Pachedo Machado de Araújo; and “Tropa de Elite 2” which marks the return to the big screen of the controversial police captain Nascimento.

The year in cinema began in Brazil with the “Lula, o filho do Brasil” (“Lula, the Son of Brazil”), the story of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from birth to his success as a union leader. The most expensive movie ever made in Brazil – at a cost of about R$12 million (US$7 million) – already has made more money than the average film, but not as much as its producers had hoped.

“We released the movie during the school vacation and this spoiled our strategy,” producer Paula Barreto says.

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