By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There is a new U.S. – Brazil film company named Corisco setting up in Rio looking to capitalize on the strong market potential of Brazil. Vinicio Espinosa, chief operating officer of the start-up explains the decision to move to here was that, “Rio is the capital of the Brazilian entertainment world and the perfect setting for our company. The talent is gathered mostly here, as are a great number of production companies and other key players, such as Ancine.”
The Brazilian film industry is on a roll. The latest Brazilian movie hit Bruna Surfistinha about a young girl from the middle-class who becomes a call girl, in its opening weekend, had 400,000 viewers and grossing US$2.5 million.
“Nationwide you can see movie theaters fill up when showing films that have Brazilian stories, actors and music,” says Espinosa, “Brazil’s young expanding middle-class audience would rather watch a Brazilian film than a Hollywood-production.”
The economic potential of Brazilian cinema has been proven by producer and director José Padilha. His Tropa de Elite sequel Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within didn’t play huge in the United States or Europe, but in Brazil it surpassed the international blockbuster movie Avatar and grossed over US$60 million in Brazil alone.
At the premiere night of the Hollywood animated feature Rio, Corisco’s CEO Nicholas Bernstein said “Hollywood is beginning to realize that local ideas have the power to compete internationally. The next logical step is to take local production and show the world that Brazil is ready for its close-up.”
Corisco Films believes that combining the best of the Brazilian and American film industry can bring Brazilian cinema to the next level. “There is a lot of great creative talent in Brazil and we want to mix that with the experience from the U.S. film industry,” explains Espinosa. “We are combining big names from the Brazilian film industry with Americans who represent decades of award-winning Hollywood-experience and distribution know-how.”
Espinosa has over eight years of experience in investment banking and entertainment. After a career at J.P.Morgan Chase in New York and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Los Angeles, he now leads the start up phase for the new Brazilian-American film company. “It’s our goal to produce six to eight movies per year,” Espinosa says, “one or two of those are intended to be internationally released as well.”
His main occupation right now is meeting with Brazilian actors, directors, screenwriters and other local artists. “I am trying to visit as many film markets and meet as much talented artists as possible. Later on in the development and production process, we can team up Brazilians and Americans for different projects.” Adding that he is enjoying his discovery of Brazil, “Brazil is like a sensory overload with all its wonderful visuals, sounds, smells, music, people and stories.“
Corisco is not affiliated with a major Hollywood studio, but the company is working on a deal to draw from the catalog of the MGM-Studios. Espinosa: “It means we can do remakes of these movies, but if we were to do that, we would never simply change American actors for Brazilians and leave it at that. We would turn the Hollywood-film into a Brazilian film, with Brazilian storylines, music, actors and screenwriters. But perhaps with an American director.”
There is a project like this in development already, but Espinosa can’t reveal details just yet. “Let’s just say that Brazil can expect its own version of an icon of musical cinema.” Expected release date: December 2012.