José Padilha's Tropa de Elite 2 / The Elite Squad 2, a controversial sequel to the equally controversial 2007 Brazilian blockbuster and Berlin Film Festival winner The Elite Squad, has become the top local production at the Brazilian box office in 2010.
According to preliminary results accounting for 90 percent of the 696 theaters showing the film, after 10 days The Elite Squad 2 has been seen by 4.14 million moviegoers (approx. US$26.6 million in ticket sales), surpassing previous 2010 hits Nosso Lar / Our Home and Chico Xavier, both dramas with a spiritualistic bent, which to date have sold 3.64 million and 3.41 million admissions, respectively.
On its opening weekend alone, The Elite Squad 2 was seen by 1.3 million moviegoers according to the film trade bulletin Filme B. That figure places the violent drama about a special police unit fighting drug traffickers and militias in Rio's slums – in addition to self-serving politicians and human-rights activists elsewhere – ahead of all but four movies in the last 10 years*, surpassing, among others, the original Spider-Man and 2010's previous record holder, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
It also places The Elite Squad 2's opening weekend as the most successful ever among Brazilian productions. Padilha's urban drama may even end up dethroning Brazil's biggest blockbuster in history, Bruno Barreto's Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, which starred Sonia Braga back in 1976. Dona Flor sold 10.7 million admissions.
All sorts of anti-piracy precautions were taken before The Elite Squad 2 opened on Brazilian screens, as the original The Elite Squad – if piracy estimates are to be believed – was seen by 11 million people before that movie's 2007 opening.
On the downside: Eagerly embraced by Brazilian moviegoers, The Elite Squad 2, much like its predecessor, has been accused of glorifying police brutality and a facile, far-right approach to combating crime.
Directed by Padilha, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Bráulio Mantovani, The Elite Squad 2 features Wagner Moura, Tainá Müller, André Ramiro, City of God's Seu Jorge, Milhem Cortaz, Maria Ribeiro, and Rod Carvalho.
*Filme B's box office reports begin in 2000. The Elite Squad 2 may have had the biggest opening ever in Brazil's “box-office history.”
Photo: Bento Marzo / RioFilme
Main source: O Globo.