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jan 03, 2018

Brazil’s potential for cinema and TV inspires Netflix to invest

Back in 2016, Netflix launched 3%, a sci-fi series about a dystopian future where only 3 percent of the population is allowed to live in comfort, while the rest lives in absolute poverty. The show impressed for its original approach to an oft-exploited theme, and offers a perspective “you wouldn’t see in a normal Divergent-type shows”, according to Gizmodo. That’s because 3% is an entirely Brazilian-made show – the first produced by Netflix. But it’s certainly not the last.

Brazil’s Minister of Culture Sérgio Sá Leitão announced after a meeting at Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters that the streaming giant has its eyes on Brazil. Besides 3% and the moving documentary City of God: 10 Years Later, both of which have already been released, Netflix is set to launch 11 Brazilian projects by 2020.

The move is anything but surprising. Brazilian cinema has excelled with international audiences, with recent movies like Aquarius and the short documentary Agora earning praise from critics across the globe. Brazil is also Netflix’s third biggest market – accounting for 6 percent of the service’s global audience, and only just behind the United States and the UK. Brazilian subscribers are expected to spend over $480 million in streaming services in 2018 alone.

“Our plan is not to take Hollywood to the rest of the world, but to offer good content from different countries to our users. To achieve that, Brazil is pivotal”, said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer. Netflix has the “best possible feeling” about the Brazilian market, said Sá Leitão. “There's really a commitment to gradually increase investments to produce Brazilian content, which will benefit not only the sector, but the country as a whole”, stated the minister after returning from Los Angeles.

Jossi Fresco, Regional Director for Latin American at Verizon, also regards Latin America – and Brazil, in particular, and the next big market. “Latin America is one of the fastest-growing over-the-top content (OTT) marketplaces in the world. 65 percent of adults in the region now have an internet connection, and OTT media consumption is quickly becoming the primary reason they use it. Over the next five years, OTT revenues are predicted to triple,” he wrote in September.

In November, Netflix launched its first Brazilian film: The Killer, a Western. The Killer tells the story of Cabeleira, a feared mercenary living in the lawless desert of Pernambuco, Brazil. According to the website Decider, the flick is “sure to be a great weekend watch.” The film currently has an 8.6/10 rating on IMDb, one of cinema’s most important reference sites. According to Claire Spielberg, an American movie critic, “this is a highly-acclaimed international release that Netflix subscribers won’t want to miss.”

While Brazilian productions still lack the same budget of big-time Hollywood movies, they certainly compensate with beautiful cinematography and creativity, creating stories that are “thought-provoking and engaging,” as put by the Hollywood Reporter.