Brazil’s box office generates optimism

By Dialogo
April 26, 2010

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.” 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.