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Rio Movie Box Office: Animated Brazil-Set Musical Adventure Becomes Global Blockbuster

Rio movie birds Jewel Toucan BluRio movie with Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Toucan (George Lopez), and Blu (Jesse Eisenberg): Directed by Carlos Saldanha, 20th Century Fox’s Brazil-set animated romantic musical comedy is a global box office hit.
  • Rio movie box office: 20th Century Fox’s Carlos Saldanha-directed 3D computer-animated musical comedy adventure is doing strong global business. In the voice cast: Oscar nominees Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway.

Rio movie box office: Brazil-set, 3D computer-animated musical comedy adventure performing strongly – but not sensationally – in the domestic market

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

April 15–17 weekend box office: Sunday estimates notwithstanding, 20th Century Fox’s 3D computer-animated musical comedy adventure Rio failed to reach the $40 million mark in the North American (U.S. and Canada only) market, grossing $39.2 million from 3,826 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Yet that was enough for Rio – directed by Rio de Janeiro-born Carlos Saldanha – to boast 2011’s biggest domestic opening-weekend to date, having surpassed the $38.1 million earned by another computer-animated, one-word-titled release, Paramount Pictures’ comedy Western Rango, directed by Tennessee-born Gore Verbinski.

Having said that, Rango undoubtedly sold more tickets than Rio, as it didn’t have the advantage of box-office-boosting 3D surcharges. (Nearly 60 percent of Rio’s revenues came from pricier 3D houses.)

Here’s another quick comparison that makes Rio’s performance look a wee bit less stellar: Without 3D surcharges, animator Saldanha’s original Ice Age movie earned $46.3 million back in 2002 – or the equivalent of about $64 million today.

Can Rio’s birds fly as high as a dragon?

On the plus side…

For comparison’s sake: Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel and Gerard Butler, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon opened with $43.7 million from 4,055 locations in late March 2010, ending its run with $217.6 million domestically, in addition to $277.3 million internationally. Worldwide total: $494.9 million. Budget: $165 million.

Budgeted at a reported $90 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), the generally well-received Rio could easily reach at least 75 percent of How to Train Your Dragon’s global total. If so, the Fox release will have been a hugely profitable endeavor.

In fact, Rio is performing strongly overseas, having topped the international box office chart for the second weekend in a row according to The Hollywood Reporter. International cume: $129.1 million, $18.2 million of which from Brazil – reportedly the opening-weekend record (adjusted neither for inflation nor for currency fluctuations) for an American movie in that country. (Note: On its international debut, 71 percent of Rio’s revenues came from 3D showings.)

Rio movie 2011 Sugar LoafRio movie 2011 with the Sugar Loaf in the background.

Rio movie cast

The story of an American-raised blue macaw that finds love in Brazil – apparently, the feathery male version of Virginia Bruce in Brazil, Lana Turner in Latin Lovers, etc. – Rio features the voices of Oscar nominees Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, 2010) as the American macaw and Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, 2008) as the Brazilian macaw he falls in love with, plus Jane Lynch, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, George Lopez, and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (Ray, 2004).

As a local ornithologist, Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro provides some Portuguese-accented color.

Tropical-flavored global blockbuster

Update: Carlos Saldanha’s Rio ultimately collected $143.6 million domestically and a whopping $340.2 million internationally. Worldwide total: A hugely profitable $483.9 million – and only $11 million less than How to Train Your Dragon.

Rio’s top international markets were Brazil (making a rare appearance in the no. 1 slot with $33.6 million), Mexico ($26.6 million), Russia/CIS ($24.8 million), France ($24.8 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($21.6 million), Germany ($17.8 million), Australia ($17.2 million), Spain ($13.3 million), Argentina ($9.4 million), Italy ($9.2 million), Colombia ($8.3 million), and Venezuela ($8.1 million).

Japan isn’t found on Box Office Mojo’s country chart.

‘Latin flavor’ nonsense

Now, it would be downright idiotic to extrapolate that Rio did well in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela – the latter three countries are rarely found among the Top Twelve international markets – because of its “Latin flavor.” Unless, that is, that would also help to explain the no.3 and no. 5 territories on the list, Russia/CIS and the U.K./Ireland.

Indeed, the likely reason for Rio’s success in the Spanish-speaking countries mentioned above is that this computer-animated feature was heavily marketed in them.


Rio Movie Box Office” endnotes

At a distant no. 2 on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart, Wes Craven’s latest Scream movie franchise entry, Scream 4, is an outright flop. In the cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette.

Also: Robert Redford’s historical drama The Conspirator, starring James McAvoy and Robin Wright, opened with underwhelming figures. Faring even worse, Paul Johansson’s critically lambasted Atlas Shrugged: Part I is an unmitigated box office disaster. Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler star.

Unless otherwise noted, “Rio Movie Box Office: Animated Brazil-Set Musical Adventure Becomes Global Blockbuster” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Rio and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

Toucan, Jewel, and Blu Rio movie images: 20th Century Fox.

Rio Movie Box Office: Animated Brazil-Set Musical Adventure Becomes Global Blockbuster” last updated in January 2023.

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