Latin America 2015 in Review: Netflix Gets Brazil Original, Argentine and Colombian Films Win Awards

Courtesy of Netflix
'Narcos'

'Narcos' also puts Latin American talent in the spotlight and Fandango acquires a company in Brazil, while Justin Bieber avoids arrest in Argentina.

Netflix hit drama Narcos, Argentina's film festival favorite The Clan, Netflix's first Brazilian original — they all made headlines in the Latin American entertainment industry in 2015.

Add in a Fandango acquisition, helicopter accidents during TV shoots, a Justin Bieber arrest warrant and more, and it turned out to be a busy year for the region.

Here is THR's look at the big media and entertainment stories in Latin America in 2015.

Brazil

Brazil in 2015 drew interest from big U.S. industry players, such as Netflix, which ordered its first Brazilian original series — the futuristic thriller 3% — and Fandango, which bought Brazil's top online ticketer Ingresso.

At the country's box office, the end of the year is marked by the Dec. 31 release of Roberto Santucci's Ate que a sorte nos separe 3, the third installment of a successful franchise featuring TV comedian Leandro Hassum. The previous installment featured a Jerry Lewis cameo and made it to the top 10 at the box office in 2013.

While producing company Downtown already managed to get another one of Santucci's comedies, Loucas pra Casar, into the top 10 of 2015, the new release is expected to add another strong box-office performer to its portfolio.

Argentina

Argentine cinema had a record year at the box office, which reached $234 million with 50 million tickets sold, topping 2014's 46.9 million mark. As usual, attendance was mostly driven by Hollywood films, led by Minions, but a few local blockbusters also pitched in.

The local industry also had a very fruitful festival run for its films, with Santiago Mitre's Paulina topping Cannes' Critics' Week and Pablo Trapero's The Clan grabbing the best director honor in Venice.

The Clan, a thriller about the infamous Puccio family, who kidnapped and murdered rich acquaintances back in the 1980s, was the alpha dog this year, breaking the box-office record for a homegrown film opening with 668,000 million tickets sold, compared to the previous high of 450,000 for Oscar-nominated Wild Tales by Damian Szifron. Producing partner Telefe Productions was also behind the year's local top grossers Abzurdah and No Kids, emphasizing its role as the country's most successful production shingle.

Meanwhile, recent presidential elections in Argentina, won by pro-business reformer Mauricio Macri, are bringing changes to the country's film institutions, with the national film institute now led by Alejandro Cacetta, a former producer at Patagonik (partly owned by Buena Vista International) who worked on local hits A Boyfriend for My Wife (2008) and Corazon de Leon (2013), among others.

However, foreign TV shoots in Argentina made negative headlines, with two different helicopter accidents killing 12 people in 2015. In March, 10 people, including staff and stars of French survival show Dropped, were killed when two helicopters collided and crashed during the filming of the show in the La Rioja province. And in December, two local crew members from MTV's The Challenge died when their helicopter went down in Mendoza.

On the other hand, Argentina in 2015 delivered good news for Justin Bieber, whose outstanding arrest warrant, issued in 2013 after an incident between his bodyguards and a photographer at a Buenos Aires nightclub, was revoked.

Colombia

Despite its Miss Universe finalist not having won the competition as first announced by Steve Harvey, 2015 delivered mostly good news for Colombia.

Mike Sleeves' nature documentary Colombia Magia Salvaje became the highest-grossing local film ever and the all-time record breaker for best opening of a local film, managing to get into the top 10 at the box office in the eighth position, before Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened on Dec. 17, with $4.4 million.

Colombia also saw Ciro Guerra's Embrace of the Serpent win at Cannes' Directors' Fortnight and sweep the Colombian Academy Awards, More recently, it made it onto the shortlist for the foreign-language Oscar nominees, the only Latin American contender to make the cut.

Underlining the country's position as one of the most attractive locations for foreign shoots in the region, Netflix's Colombian show Narcos, about legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar, grabbed two nominations at the Golden Globes, for best television series drama and best performance by an actor in a television series for its Brazilian star Wagner Moura (Elysium).

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