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Film and Borders: Foreign Productions in the Cinematic Market in China and Brazil

Today, I have become aware that the Brazilian Senate will be deliberating a new legislative proposal aimed at safeguarding the Brazilian cinematic market. This endeavor holds substantial significance, regardless of the opinions it may engender. Cinema represents more than mere entertainment devoid of commercial and political interests.

When considering the success of Barbie and the research conducted by Chinese academics regarding the impact of foreign productions on the country, it becomes evident that there is a significant imperative to underscore and expand the Brazilian domestical market. Considering the last information about Barbie in Brazil and globally, the movie has garnered a sum exceeding R$160 millions.

The movie has firmly established itself as a hallmark in the trajectory of Warner Bros, with its prominent presence in 2023, achieving a global revenue US$1bilion. Barbie has consistently set impressive records, attesting to its phenomenal impact underpinned by a robust marketing strategy.

Examining date from Ancine, the Brazilian National Agency of Cinema (for the year 2022), it becomes evident that the success of Barbie in Brazil encounters minimal obstacles. Beyond the movie's captivating effect on the audience, the dates reveal that in the realm of international cinema, it adeptly aligns itself with the prevailing trends within an open and receptive market.

The aggregate viewership count for the movie reached an impressive figure of 95,104,374, a testament to the culture significance and the captivating influence of cinema in garnering attention within Brazil. However, a closer examination of these statistics reveals a pivotal observation: a substantial proportion of 91,082,643 viewers were drawn to foreign productions, while merely of 4,021,723 opted for Brazilian movies.

The total gross revenue amounted to R$ 1,816,052,811.26, with R$ 71,028,001.18 attributed to Brazilian films and R$ 1,745,024,810.08 to foreign films. This discrepancy underscores the significant impact of foreign films on the domestic market, which, in turn, can influence the visibility and competitiveness of domestic productions.

Moreover, this is not related to the number of releases. In the same analyzed year, 173 national films were released, accounting for 44.94% of the total 385 films (including international releases).

The point is not to diminish the credit of producers, but rather to reflect upon the domestic market and how local productions are affected by dominant international releases, which often overshadow other films in terms of timing and screening locations. This is due to their greater commercial power and influence in the commercial relationships that determine which films are prioritized.

When discussing the national market, we are referring to job creation and revenue generation for the country, ultimately contributing to an enhanced standard of living for the population.

Investing in and fostering the production of domestic films paves the way for a substantial increase in direct and indirect employment within the entertainment industry. From conception and production to distribution and screening in cinemas, involving logistics and promotion, each step requires specialized professionals, driving demand for skilled labor across various sectors. Furthermore, the expansion of the film market stimulates related sectors such as tourism and hospitality, as more individuals are drawn to watch domestic productions in theaters.

The appreciation of Brazil's domestic film market also bolsters the economy by projecting the nation's culture and identity on an international stage. Successful films create a positive image of Brazil globally, thereby augmenting tourist interest and the consumption of Brazilian goods and services abroad. This exposure can attract foreign investment, strengthening the economy and creating new business opportunities in various sectors.

Reflecting on the film industry as a strategic political tactic compels governments to invest significant time and resources, recognizing that a robust domestic market serves not only the elements of national identity but also leads to a marked improvement in the quality of life for the population. While this concept is neither new nor rare, it unfortunately remains not fully embraced by various sectors in Brazil.

When contemplating the Chinese and American film industries, for instance, cinema has long been considered a strategic sector, akin to any national industry. According to the article 'Além do Exoticism': Strategies for Constructing the Images of China in Western Movies by researcher Chen Yu of Shanghai University, as early as 1920, the United States Department of Commerce directed its ambassadors and consuls to investigate local film production and the Chinese market. The first such investigation was released in 1927. By 1946, China had imported over 200 Hollywood films. The influx of foreign films was only curtailed following the 1949 Revolution, resuming again in the 1980s.

All this occurred amidst the tension of a pre-revolutionary country, with foreign powers (including the United States) intervening in domestic political matters to secure their interests.

Even in contemporary times, according to the article 'Hollywood's Global Strategy and the Development of Chinese Film' by researcher Yibo Zhang of Guangzhou Railway Polytechnic, Hollywood film productions that touch on China-related themes still target the Chinese domestic market while perpetuating Western stereotypes of Asian exoticism. This has led some young individuals to adopt the Western idealized lifestyle portrayed in films, while others entirely reject it as it does not represent their socio-cultural reality.

Nonetheless, the author suggests that the solution is not to prohibit Hollywood films (a policy that China abandoned decades ago), but rather to discuss the impact of foreign films on the national industry. This argument aligns with the current concerns of the Brazilian Senate.

The proposal to enact protective measures for Brazilian cinema and audiovisual content carries significant implications for the nation's film industry. By fortifying the domestic market, this initiative not only valorizes our local productions but also broadly stimulates the national economy.

By investing in our own films and ensuring their proper exposure, we will create more jobs for industry professionals, foster the growth of production and distribution companies, and increase tax revenue for the country.

In conclusion, we must remember that we are living in an era where imagery increasingly shapes how people communicate, and from a sociological standpoint, cinematic productions continue to play an essential role in shaping the identity and economy of any nation.

The power of Barbie in China and Brazil


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