The film features the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement and Jake T. Austin. It tells the story of Blu (Eisenberg), a male blue macaw who is taken to Rio de Janeiro to mate with a female.
He eventually falls in love with Jewel (Hathaway), a free-spirited macaw, and together they have to escape from being smuggled by Nigel (Clement), a cockatoo. The theme song, "Telling the World" was sung by Taio Cruz.
Saldanha developed his first story concept of Rio in 1995, in which a penguin is washed up in Rio. However, Saldanha learned of the production of the films Happy Feet and Surf's Up, and changed the concept to involve macaws and their environments in Rio.
He proposed his idea to Chris Wedge in 2006, and the project was set up at Blue Sky. The main voice actors were approached in 2009. During production, the crew visited Rio de Janeiro and also consulted with an expert on macaws at the Bronx Zoo to study their movements.
20th Century Fox released the film on March 22, 2011 in Brazil and April 15, 2011 in the United States. The film received generally positive reviews from film critics. Observers praised the visuals, voice acting, and music. The film was also a box office success, grossing over $484 million worldwide.