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Veja Rio’s best restaurants 2021

22 Oct

In 1997 Veja Rio launched its excellent restaurant and bar guide “Comer & Beber”, which also chooses its best restaurants and bars in Rio for the year (it does the same for São Paulo). The list of the city’s best for Rio 2021 are:

  • Contemporary Brazilian: Oteque (Botafogo)
  • Barbecue / Churrascaria Rodizio: Churrascaria Palace (Copacabana)
  • Seafood: Escama (Jardim Botanico)
  • French: L’Etoile – Sheraton Rio (Leblon)
  • Italian: Grado (Jardim Botanico)
  • Pizza: Ferro e Farinha (Catete / Botafogo / Leblon)
  • Portuguese: Gajos D’Ouro (Ipanema)
  • Asian: Spicy Fish (Ipanema)
  • Japanese: San (Leblon)
  • Hamburger: Sabor D.O.C. (Leblon)
  • Veagan: Ganic Lab (Barra)
  • Gastropub: Pope (Ipanema)
  • Botequim / Bar: Bafo da Prainha
  • Cheap & Cheerful: Cantón (Copacabana)
  • Ice Cream: Mil Frutas (Ipanema / Leblon / Jardim Botanico / São Conrado / Barra)
  • Breakfast: Café 18 do Forte (Copacabana)
  • Kiosk: De Lamare (Posto 8 – Ipanema)
  • Best Terrace: Boteco Belmonte (Ipanema)

13th Brazilian Convention & Visitors Bureau Congress

16 Jun

The 13th Brazilian Convention & Visitors Bureau Congress will bring the Brazilian travel and tourism industry and authorities together over two days on 17 and 18 June 2021 (via video conferencing) to look at the challenges facing the industry as it works to reset itself post pandemic. 

While domestic tourism has held up quite well in Brazil over the past 18 months, when allowed to operate, international visitors have been very limited as travel between Brazil and rest of the world has been severely restricted and continues to be so.

The conference, organised by the Brasil Convention & Visitors Bureaux (BC&VB), will emphasise the growing importance of tourism to many areas of Brazil, and look at the challenges to be faced by the accommodation and aviation sectors post pandemic, flights being of key importance to a country the size of Brazil. Sustainable transport is on the agenda, and the participants will also hear about the current global situation for travel and tourism and how other destinations are looking to re-launch and open when it is safe to do so.

Via the magic of Zoom Critical Divide’s Christopher Pickard has the honour of giving his view of world events in a presentation entitled “O Mercado Global de Turismo – um olhar na realidade.” (The Global Tourism Market: A Reality Check).

True Crime Documentaries in Demand by Global Audiences

23 Mar

A new study by “True Crime Mania” has found that online searches on Netflix and IMDb for true crime documentaries, according to popularity and critical rating, have risen by 114% since May 2020. The study found that while staple mysteries like The Black Dahlia and Jack the Ripper remain among the most-searched cases, it’s the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann that has garnered the most worldwide interest to date. But some viewers are watching true crime docs with no preference for case, as it’s Netflix’s 2020 “Unsolved Mysteries” series that is the most-streamed show globally, with Season 1 Episode 3 House of Terror considered the best of the bunch. The series seeing a massive 696% increase in searches. The top 10 true crime shows based on search volume since May are according to True Crime Mania as follows:

  1. Unsolved Mysteries
  2. Making a Murderer
  3. Wild Wild Country
  4. Abducted in Plain Sight
  5. The Act of Killing
  6. Bowling for Columbine
  7. The Thin Blue Line
  8. The Keepers
  9. The Imposter
  10. The Devil Next Door

Critical Divide will be hoping to add to the list with a new documentary about the life of the Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs. “Ronnie Biggs’ Rio: No One is Innocent” is currently in pre-production.

Critical Divide features Mangueira for 2021

10 Jan


The Critical Divide calendar for 2021 features Estação Primeira de Mangueira’s parade at Rio’s carnival on 24 February 2020.

Sadly our On Parade with Mangueira: Carnival in Rio project will now have to wait until 2022 as it needs a proper full-blown Rio carnival to work, and that won’t now happen in 2021, although there may be parade of the top samba schools in July.

If that parade takes place, Mangueira samba will be “Angenor, José & Laurindo”, which refers to three of the school’s most iconic figures, the great composer, Cartola, (Angenor de Oliveira); the singer, Jamelão (José Bispo Clementino dos Santos); and the dance master or mestre-sala, Delegado (Hélio Laurindo da Silva).

2021 marks the centenary of the birth of Mestre Delegado who performed for the school from 1948 through to 1984, when he retired as the Mestre-Sala after Mangueira had won the Super-Championship to mark the first year of the Sambódromo. In that period Delegado had always scored a maximum 10 for his presentation.

Hopefully good things come to those that wait, but until then you can keep up to date on carnival and Rio at www.riotheguide.com.

Flying Down to Rio with British United

10 Jan



A blast from the past when British United flew between the UK and Brazil.

British United took over BOAC’s South American routes to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay on 5 November 1964. Those routes, flying VC10s via Madrid, Lisbon, Las Palmas or Freetown, became profitable for United by late-1968. In November 1970, the airline was sold and merged into Caledonian to form British Caledonian that continued to fly to South America, replacing the VC10s with Boeing 707s in 1972, which allowed for a non-stop service between London Gatwick and Rio.

British Airways took over the routes from British Caledonian in 1985.

Alex Ellis appointed British High Commissioner to India

10 Jan

Congratulations to Alex Ellis, who was the British Ambassador to Brazil from 2013 to 2017, who has been appointed British High Commissioner to the Republic of India in succession to Sir Philip Barton.

Mr Ellis will take up his appointment during January 2021. Most recently he was working as the Deputy National Security Adviser in the Cabinet Office.

Brazil – COVID-19 – Carnival 2021

25 Sep

As in many countries, COVID-19 has had a major and disruptive impact on life in Brazil and in Rio de Janeiro.

Given the size of the population, and the country, Brazil has had one of the highest number of COVID cases and deaths in the world after the US, and access to and around the country has been restricted. As a result a number of hotels, restaurants, bars, stores, attractions, and even beaches, have been closed or offer limit access. So please check before you plan a visit to Brazil or Rio for leisure purposes. We are trying to update our sites at Rio: The Guide and Brazil: The Guide just as soon as it is clear which businesses have re-opened and survived.

It also looks as if there will be major disruption to Rio’s carnival in 2021 with few or none of the major parades and group activities taking place.  If you want to truly experience carnival in Rio, or any other part of Brazil, you will be better to wait until 2022. 

Viradouro: Champion samba school of Rio’s 2020 Carnival

27 Feb

Viradouro, that paraded second on Sunday and which were the runner up in 2019, won its second carnival title in 2020, beating Grande Rio by the smallest of margins having tied after all the marks were added up. Mocidade was third; Beija-Flor, fourth; Salgueiro, fifth and Mangueira, champions in 2019, sixth.

União da Ilha and Estácio de Sá were relegated with Imperatriz promoted to the Grupo Especial. In 2021 twelve schools will parade in the Grupo Especial.

The results of Rio’s Carnival Parade in 2020 were:

  • Viradouro (269.6 out of 270)
  • Grande Rio (269.6)
  • Mocidade (269.4)
  • Beija-Flor (269.4)
  • Salgueiro (269.0)
  • Mangueira (268.9)
  • Portela (268.8)
  • Vila Isabel (268.6)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (267.6)
  • Sao Clemente (267.0)
  • Paraíso do Tuiuti (266.2)
  • Estácio de Sá (264.7)
  • União da Ilha (264.2)

Riotur photos of Viradouro’s parade, “Viradouro de alma lavada”, about As Ganhadeiras de Itapuã.

40 Years On: Frank Sinatra in Rio de Janeiro

20 Jan

40 years ago, in January 1980, the unlikely figure of the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, arrived in Rio de Janeiro. He landed on 21 January at Rio’s international airport to be the star attraction at the opening of a new five star hotel on Rio’s Copacabana Beach, the Rio Palace. A property that has been recently renovated and is now the Fairmont Rio.

Sinatra had been brought to Rio by the head of the Artplan advertising agency, Roberto Medina, a name familiar now as the man behind the famous Rock in Rio festivals. But it is unlikely that without the visit of Sinatra in 1980 that Rock in Rio would ever have taken place five years later, or that the gates would have opened for other major performers and artists to come to Brazil.

Medina had already worked with Sinatra, having used Ol Blue Eyes in an advert for the Brazilian bottled Scotch Whisky, Passport. Medina had also used David Niven and Burt Bacharach as part of the campaign. Sinatra also had his own links to Brazil having performed and recorded an album with Tom Jobim in 1967, which they followed up with a second in 1969.

Medina paid Sinatra a reported US$1 million for five shows in Rio. Four of these would be for an exclusive nightly audience of just 700 in the Rio Palace’s ballroom on the 22, 23, 24 and 25 of January 1980. The fifth show was altogether more ambitious, a stadium show on Saturday, 26 January at the Maracanã Stadium, which would also be broadcast in Brazil on TV Globo.

The shows at the Rio Palace were the place to be and be seen in Brazil that week of January 1980 (each ticket costing over US$1,000), and did what they were intended to do by putting the hotel on the map, both in Brazil and internationally. Few hotels outside of Las Vegas had the clout to attract Sinatra.

The famous concert at the Maracanã Stadium nearly did not take place, however, due to the weather. It was an open stage located right in the centre of the pitch. The special seats on the grass, closest to the uncovered stage, had been the first to sell out at US$160 each, with tickets in the stands costing just US$6.

Due to the persistent rain on the Friday and through Saturday, it was impossible to mic and wire the orchestra, and for a time it looked as if the concert would be called off and fall foul to the weather. And there was no back up date as Sinatra had to return to the US.

At 21.00, on the night of 26 January, Sinatra walked on stage just as the rain stopped and performed to the largest crowd of his career, 175,000 people, a crowd that went into the Guinness Book of record as the largest paying audience for a single act.

 

In honour of Brazil, Sinatra started with “The Coffee Song” which he followed by his repertoire of hits including “The Lady is a Tramp”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “My Way”, “Strangers In the Night”, which the crowd sang with Sinatra when he appeared to forget the lyrics, and his new hit that year, “New York, New York”. In all Sinatra performed for one hour and forty-five minutes.

Not only were Sinatra’s shows in Rio historic, but it showed that Brazil could hold major concerts. Sinatra was followed at Maracanã by Sting, Tina Turner, Kiss, Madonna, The Police, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, and the Pope, no-less, and in 1991 Medina’s own Rock in Rio II with headline acts such as Prince, Santana, George Michael, Guns’n Roses, A-ha! and INXS among others. But it was to be Sir Paul McCartney who, on another wet Saturday, would break Sinatra’s record for the paying public for a single act, when he sold an estimated 180,000 tickets for his show at the Maracanã

Sinatra was to return to play Brazil one more time, in August 1981 when he played the Maksoud Plaza hotel in São Paulo.

Brazilian Film Box Office in 2019

12 Jan

Back in November 2018 panellists at Festival do Rio’s RioMarket were unanimously optimistic about the state of the Brazilian theatrical film market for 2019, after what all agreed had been a difficult year in 2018 for distribution, exhibition and getting “bums on seats”.

It turns out those panelists had a right to be optimistic. Ticket sales increased from 163.4 million in 2018 to 172.2 million in 2019, with 19.7 million of those being for “Avengers: Endgame”. Revenues in reais (the Brazilian currency) hit the historic high of R$2.74 billion in 2019, up 13% from 2.42 billion in 2018 and beating the previous high of R$2.7 billion in 2017. The year also saw the opening of another 174 screens, taking the total to 3,505. Another record.

Domestic Brazilian titles were responsible for 11.5% of that revenue in 2019, or R$315m, up 13% from R$279m in 2018, but actual ticket sales for Brazilian films were down 1.2% from 22.9m tickets in 2018 to 22.6m in 2019, with 2.5 million of those, or nearly 10%, sold in the final week of 2019 thanks to the comedy “Minha Mãe É Uma Peça 3” (My Mom is a Character 3). 327 Brazilian titles were released in 2019, down 11% from 367 in 2018, while international titles released in 2019 were 560, down 1.7% from 570 in 2018.

For nearly a decade, up to 2017, Brazil’s theatrical market had experienced growth. It had to stop at some point, so after eight consecutive years of increased ticket sales and revenues, 2017 became the year of no growth in Brazil, but the numbers were still very strong. 2018 was to see a further decline in ticket sales, and the first decline in 12 years in box office revenues in the local currency. But head offices in the US were still not complaining about the results they were seeing from Brazil, still one of the world’s largest cinema going markets.

Cinema admissions in Brazil had now gone from 89.1 million in 2008 to 112.7m in 2009; 134.9m in 2010; 143.2m in 2011; 146.6m in 2012, the year Brazil hosted the World Cup; 149.5m in 2013; 155.6m in 2014; 173m in 2015, to the record breaking 184.3 million in 2016, surprisingly the year of the Rio Olympics. In 2017, no record, but still the very respectable sales of 181 million ticket were achieved, a drop of just 1.5%, compared with 2016, but still the second best year on record, before the drop of 10.1% to 163.4m in 2018, but now an increase of 7.6% to 172.2m ticket sales in 2019.

The strength and volatility of the US dollar against the Brazilian real has meant dollar values were down in 2019. 2017’s gross had represented US$749.7 million at the time, up from US$726m in 2016 and just US$486m in 2015, while 2018’s dollar revenues were down to US$630m, and 2019’s box office is estimated to have been worth around US$594 million. But if exchange rates worked against them, the studios should still be happy with the number of “bums on seats”.

In 2018 factors contributing to what was seen as a disappointing year for ticket sales and revenues for the big screen in Brazil included the World Cup, the Brazilian Presidential Elections, and a truckers strike that almost brought Brazil to a halt for two weeks. Panellists at Rio Market also mentioned a disappointing line up of both domestic and international titles that had failed to find or excite an audience in Brazil. In fact 2018 was generally very sluggish in Brazil with only 127 million tickets having been sold up until the end of September, mainly thanks to the April release of “Avengers: Infinity War”, before the market showed signs of recovery in October and early November thanks to “A Star is Born”, “Venom”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”, and in December “Aquaman”.

Panellists at RioMarket were particularly encouraged by “A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” because these two films did not fill the normal blockbuster form of an established franchise or action character. All panellists, however, noted that both for international and domestic Brazilian releases, it was around the top ten to 15 releases that did really well, with the other 400+ titles struggling and offering a lot of room for improvement.

2019’s box office, however, was firmly dominated again by established franchises or action characters with “Avengers: Endgame” becoming the most watched film of all time in Brazil with sales of 19.2 million tickets, and Disney’s “The Lion King” selling 15.8 million to make it the third most watched of all time after “Titanic” in 1998. “Avengers: Infinity War” is fourth on the list

The average occupancy rates of the 3,500 screens in Brazil, the majority in multiplexes and over 30% of them in the state of São Paulo and 11% in Rio, has been running at around 18-19%, yet capacity is a problem in Brazil whenever a major blockbuster, like “Avengers” is released. There is no question that Brazil is under screened with just one screen for every 62,293 people, compared with 8,123 in the US or 15,253 for the UK.

The expansion of screens in Brazil, now back to the levels of the 1970s, also slowed in 2018 and 2019 and this has been put down to the economic climate in Brazil that saw a slowing in the expansion of shopping centres where new screens would be located. Shopping Centre screens are also the most successful in Brazil in terms of revenues and tickets sales. Having said that, 174 screen did open in 2019 (44 closed), taking the total of screens past the 3,500 mark. Since 2017 it is estimated that 434 new screens have come online, with 350 of those in the interior of the country and just 84 in the main cities.

In 2019 six cinema complexes in Brazil sold more than one million tickets in the year, those being UCI NYCC (Rio de Janeiro); Cinemark Guarulhos (São Paulo); UCI Kinoplex Norte Shopping (Rio de Janeiro); Kinoplex Dom Pedro (Campinas); Cinemark Aricanduva (São Paulo); and UCI Kinoplex Shopping Iguatemi (Fortaleza). Rio de Janeiro remains the state with the highest market share for domestic Brazilian releases.

Top 20 grossing films of the year in Brazil in 2019

  1. Avengers: Endgame (US$85.7 million from tickets sales of 19.2 million)
  2. The Lion King (US$69.5m / 15.8m)
  3. Captain Marvel (US$38.1m / 8.8m)
  4. Joker (US$38.1m / 9.4m)
  5. Toy Story 4 (US$32.7m / 7.8m)
  6. Spider Man: Far From Home (US$28.3 / 6.4m)
  7. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (US$22.3m/ 5.6m)
  8. Aladdin (US$19.9m / 4.7m)
  9. Minha Vida em Marte (US$17.5m / 4.3m) *
  10. Ralph Breaks the Internet (US$17.3m / 4.3m)
  11. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (US$14.4m / 3.8m)
  12. Nada a Perder 2(Nothing To Lose 2 – US$13.7m / 5.2m) *
  13. Aquaman (US$12.4m 2.9m)
  14. Shazam! (US$12m / 2.9m)
  15. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (US$10.2 / 2.7m)
  16. Minha Mãe É Uma Peça 3 (My Mom is a Character 2 – US$7.6m / 2.6m) *
  17. Dumbo (US$7.6m / 1.8m)
  18. Turma da Monica: Laços (Monica’s Gang – US$7.5m / 2m) *
  19. De Pernas Pro Ar 3 (Head Over Heels 3 – US$7m / 1.8m) *
  20. The Secret Life of Pets (US$7m / 1.9m)

* Domestic Brazilian Release

Top 20 grossing films of the year in Brazil in 2018

  1. Avengers: Infinity War (US$66.7million from tickets sales of 14.5 million)
  2. Incredibles 2 (US$37.5m / 9.8m)
  3. Black Panther (US$35.8m / 7.4m)
  4. Nada a Perder (Nothing To Lose – US$33m / 12.2m) *
  5. Aquaman ($23.2m / 5.6m)
  6. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (US$21.8m / 4.8m)
  7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (US$20.8m / 5.2m)
  8. The Nun (US$20m / 5.3m)
  9. Fifty Shades Freed (US$19.7m / 4.3m)
  10. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (US$19.5m / 5.4m)
  11. Venom (US$19m / 4.6m)
  12. Deadpool 2 (US$18.8m / 4.6m)
  13. Ferdinand (US$14.4m / 3.4m)
  14. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (US$14.2m / 3.5m)
  15. Bohemian Rhapsody (US$13.3m / 2.9m)
  16. Ant Man and the Wasp (US$13m / 3.2m)
  17. Mission Impossible – Fallout (US$11.8m / 2.5m)
  18. Os Farofeiros (The Beachnickers – US$9.8m / 2.6 m) *
  19. Coco (US$9.4m / 2.6m)
  20. Fala Serio Mãe ( US$9m /  2.4m) *

* Domestic Brazilian Release

Top 20 grossing films of the year in Brazil in 2017

  1. Fast & Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious ( US$41.8m from tickets sales of 8.5 million)
  2. Beauty and the Beast (US$41.5m / 8.3m);
  3. Despicable Me 3 (US$35.9m / 8.89m, the highest ticket sales of the year);
  4. Justice League (US$35.9m / 8.4m);
  5. Wonder Woman (US$ 33m / 7m);
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming ($32m /6.7m);
  7. Thor: Ragnarok (US$30.4m / 6.4m)
  8. Logan (US$29.2m / 6.4m);
  9. Minha Mãe É Uma Peça 2 (My Mom is a Character 2 – US$27.9m / 6.5m) *
  10. The Shack (US$23.6m / 5.1m)
  11. Moana (US$22.9m / 5.1m)
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (US$21m / 4.2m)
  13. Fifty Shades Darker (US$20.3m / 4.6m)
  14. It (US$19.9m / 4.4m)
  15. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (US$16.7m /  3.6m)
  16. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (US$16.1m / 3.1m)
  17. Wonder (US$16.1 / 4.1)
  18. The Boss Baby (US$13.9m / 3.3m)
  19. War of the Planet of the Apes (US$13.4m / 2.7m)
  20. The Mummy (US$13.3m / 3m)

* Domestic Brazilian Release