Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Film Industry in Brazil

Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


The Brazilian film industry has shown increasing dynamism since the mid 90s. Here you'll find out the history of cinema in Brazil and the current state of the film industry in the country.

The History of Brazilian Films

At the beginning of the Brazilian Republic (1889), Brazil was in a classic dependence situation: great exporter of agricultural products and at the same time, greatly dependent on importation of manufactured goods. Goods were not the only thing being imported from abroad. Brazil was also importing a European way of life and culture.

During the period that Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil, it was a target of a new urbanization and modernization through government policy. The policy was championed by the optimism of the new republic and its mains goal was a “civilized” capital. The atmosphere of urbanization and importation of foreign culture was favorable for the introduction of the cinema in Brazil in 1886, with the first film exhibition in Rio de Janeiro.

Phases of Brazilian Cinema

Phase Description
First Decades The first decades of film production in Brazil weren't that impressive. The production and exhibition of films were done mainly by immigrants, that came to Brazil by the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. In this first decades of the national cinema, Paschoal Segreto – an Italian immigrant – launched the first movie theater: the Salão das Novidades Paris in Rio de Janeiro in 1987.
Hollywood Domination In the 1930s, the first national films were already struggling with the massive American competition and distribution. Brazilian films were based on national and popular culture and musical comedies with actors and radio singers, such as “Hello, Hello Brazil” (1935) and “Hello, Hello Carnival” (1936) conquering the Brazilian public taste. Such films not only started to spread a Brazilian cultural stereotype abroad, but also revealed one of the most famous figures of the time: Carmen Miranda.
Industrialization Attempt Hollywood was strong competition for national productions, and the only way to compete with it was by the industrialization. By the end of the 1940s, the Vera Cruz studio was created in São Paulo. The studio was constructed based on Hollywood's studios in order to conduct a more sophisticated kind of cinema. In 1953, O Cangaceiro (1953) from Lima Barreto won an award at Cannes festival.
Golden Era: The Cinema Novo The golden era of films, also known as Cinema Novo, started in 1960's with young filmmakers conducting social-themed films, such as "God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun" (1964) and "The Dragon of Evil Against the Holy Warrior" (1968). This phase included directors, like Glauber Rocha, one of the most well known Brazilian filmmakers.
Dictatorship and Embrafilme During the Brazilian Dictatorship, President Ernesto Geisel created the Embrafilme, a government cinema studio. The company had an important role in Brazil, but after producing controversial productions against the Brazilian military regime, it was censored, making the Brazilian film industry fall into decline.
Pornochanchada A common genre of Brazilian cinema in the 1970s. The style emerged in São Paulo early in the 70s and was a very large production business, which allowed several directors who knew how to use the talent to conquer a vast public at the time (soft-core erotic movies) to make films of great aesthetic value.

The Turn Over and the XXI Century

With the implementation of the Plano Real in 1994, a phase of economic stability started in Brazil based on the economic growth, which has permitted a recovery of the film industry sector as well as government investments in the area.

Recently, Brazil has produced several acclaimed films, such as:

  • O Quatrilho: was nominated for the Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
  • Four Days in September: was nominated for the Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and was nominated for the award Best Film at the Berlin Festival.
  • Central do Brasil: won Best Movie and Best Actress at the Berlin Festival, was nominated for the Oscar Best Picture and Best Actress at the Academy Awards and won Best Movie at the Golden Globe Awards.
  • Elite Squad: won Best Movie at the Berlin Festival and at Hola Festival.
  • City of God: won Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards, Cartagena Festivan and at the Havana Festival.

Film as an Industry

Films are activity inserted in the cultural sector of the economy and which represents the reproduction and the immediate consumption – just like the music and literature industry. The film industry is comprised of companies that participate in four segments: production, infrastructure, distribution and exhibition.

Backstage of the Industrial Chain

Chain Parts Participation
Production Companies responsible for the elaboration and development of films.
Infrastructure Companies that rent scenarios, equipment and all the infrastructure needs for production companies.
Distribution Companies that must guarantee the distribution of films to cinemas or stores. The companies work
as bridges for the communication between companies and the exhibition companies.
Exhibition Companies responsible for the commercial exhibition of films in cinemas.

The film industry deals with a long productive process, films take an average period of three years from the beginning of production until the distribution to cinemas or to the commercialization in stores. The large costs involved in this industry and the long term profit generated by it are aspects that make the film industry so dependent on government participation.

The Leading Role of the Brazilian Government

The production of Brazilian cinema is only growing today thanks to public policies for the sector. The state plays a crucial role in the performance of film industry. The scenario of the film production is characterized by small production companies seeking funds to carry out long and short films.

Brazilian Films Festivals

For the Brazilian Government, film production is an import industry that must be assisted through incentives to promote and grow the industry in the country and to promote the national production of films and their distribution not only domestically, but also abroad.

The recovery of this industry in the country can be perceived by the number of Brazilian films festivals and events organized by ANCINE– the national agency of cinema – and the increasing number of national hubs for the film exposition.

  • Festival of Paulínia: is located in São Paulo and started to host this festival in 2008, the city has also a cinematographic hub.
  • Festival of Gramando: the city is located in Rio Grande do Sul and hosts a traditional film festival since 1969.
  • Other cities also promote festivals, Rio de Janeiro is an example as the city hosts Rio's Festival and Anima Mundi yearly.

Production Concentration in Brazil

As was already observed, the film industry in Brazil requires an effusive government participation, but this participation isn't always disseminated and equally distributed throughout the national territory. Which generates production concentration in some states.

Concentration Per State

In Brazil, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro account for almost all of the national film industry. The two states together account for almost 90% of total production.

The table below is an analysis of the films commercially released in theaters from 1995 to 2008 and shows the total number of films produced during the period and the state which they were produced.

Brazilian States Total Raised with Productions Percentage (%)
Rio de Janeiro 596,693,230 66.90
São Paulo 232,450,119 26.06
Rio Grande do Sul 28,702,692 3.22
Minas Gerais 16,315,437 1.83
Paraná 4,878,756 0.55
Distrito Federal 4,821,317 0.54
Pernambuco 2,894,568 0.32
Ceará 1,932,163 0.22
Espírito Santo 1,191,971 0.13
Santa Catarina 1,134,000 0.13
Bahia 842,250 0.09

Concentration Per Company

Besides being concentrated in two states, the Brazilian production of films also has an industrial structure concentrated in the hands of a few companies. The table below is organized according to the number of films produced by each company.

Rank Company Quantity of
Films Produced
Total Revenue
1. Diller & Associados 25 128,438,323.00
2. Vídeo Filmes Produções Artísticas 20 18,680,988.00
3. Conspiração Filmes Entreterimento 14 57,860,710.00
4. Filmes do Equador 13 21,261,136.00
5. Dezenove Sons e Imagens Produções 8 665,127.00
6. Casa de Cinema de Porto Alegre 7 11,274,654.00
9. O2 Produções Art. e Cinematográficas 6 19,488,762.00
14. A.F. Cinema e Vídeo 5 4,189,565.00
16. Lereby Produções 5 49,391,445.00
20. Total Enterteinment 5 52,344,396.00
21. Cinearte Produções Cinematográficas 4 882,612.00
32. Agravo Produções Cinematográficas 3 588,959.00
48. 1001 Filmes 2 2,390,985.00
89. A Exceção e a Regra Prod. Artísticas 1 186,823.00
288 Zeugma Films/ República Pureza 1 58,000.00
Total - 537 717,298,788.54