City of God, by Fernando Meirelles !
City of God (2002) is arguably one of the most critically acclaimed
films of recent years, and it most definitely became a trademark in Brazilian cinema and culture. Based on the novel “City of God” (1997), written by
Paulo Lins and his eyewitness testimony of the bloody turf war which for years raged in Rio De Janeiro's most notorious slum, the movie got adapted and written in screenplay format by Bráulio Mantovani and was directed by now renowned film maker Fernando Meirelles. The production had an incredible amount of investors and participants involved in order to execute the movie, and it took the producers and the director about 5 years to manage to lure the proper investors. In terms of financing, executive producers Walter Salles and Donald K. Dandvaud were in charge of recruiting potential investors, which due to the script and actors attached to the movie, it was easier for such companies to believe and invest in the movie. When pitched to the investors, the story also seemed so compelling to the audience that ultimately only major national companies got involved, such as Petrobras, Ministerio da Cultura, ALMAPBBDO, BNDES, C&A,
DM9DDB, IBI BANK SA, LODUCCA, and VALESUL ALUMINIO SA. Having
such companies involved, let alone having one of them, already served as a great source of propaganda and marketing for the movie, since in Brazil, the high budget complex productions need investors with a significant amount of capital, and simply having such names linked to the movie tells people that whats to expect is very good. Nonetheless, the business of film making in Brazil is almost impossible to be executed successfully, and for meaningful profit to be made. The novel itself had 550 pages and more than 250 characters, and finding a way of cinematographically highlighting all of this material was not a simple task. At first, when receiving the novel as a present from a friend, director Fernando Meirelles was told to consider making the novel a movie, and that it could be one for the ages. Yet, he answered arguing that he knew very little information on that subject and that such a story would never work, specially because he was not from the city where it took place. However, after he started reading the novel, before reaching page 100 he realized that it could be done, and that there was in fact something special that could be made from that novel. Soon after he met with the author Paulo Lins and promised to give up his career in advertising to fully dive into the City of God film project (Notas de
If one asks the director Fernando Meirelles, arguably the pioneer in
making sure the film got made and that the story was told with authenticity and success, he would argue the movie both made and broke his career in many ways. The movie estimated to have grossed $30.6 million total, with about $7.5 million domestically and $23 million in the foreign market. It was first released in the US in the Telluride Film Festival in 2002, and in 2003 was released by Miramax in specific locations throughout the country.
Sadly, given the way the economy works in Brazil, Fernando Meirelles stated he still finds himself in debt of $4 million reais (about $1.5 million dollars), given that at the time he had made terrible contracts because no one else would want to invest in a movie with such a theme 10 years ago
(Box Office Mojo). Given the estimated budget of the movie was about $3 million dollars, one can argue that financially the movie did not end up doing as well as the director and writers had anticipated. Still, once such investors were involved, several of the most recognized production companies were used and provided assistance in the making of the movie.
“O2 Filmes” and “Video Filmes” were the two main production companies used, while co-production companies such as Globo Filmes, Lumiere and
Wild Bunch were also involved (Notas de Produção).!