Monday, November 06, 2006

"Borat" conquers the world

OK, I confess, I just didn't see this coming.

As we lined up for my usual noon Saturday movie time, I was surrounded by moms and younguns, surely not lined up to see "Borat." Though I was aware of the opening day $9 million number for "Borat," I was sure that Saturday and Sunday would belong to Tim Allen in a fat suit.

Boy, was I wrong. Not only did "Borat" conquer America this weekend, it conquered the world. Showing on only 837 screens, compared to more than 3,400 for "The Santa Clause 3," "Borat" hauled in a mighty $26.4 million in the U.S., compared to about $20 million for "SC3."

Huzzah indeed. I railed at this site earlier against a staged release for "Borat," mostly out of fear that it would skip my little corner of the world in the first week, but I once again have to eat crow. As it expands to up to 2,500 screens this upcoming weekend, it could even accomplish the rare feat of making more money in week two than week one.

"Borat" topped the international boxoffice this weekend as well with an estimated $17.7 million from 993 screens in 17 markets, bringing its total to $44.1 million worldwide in its opening weekend.

So why, beyond the undoubtable allure of Tim Allen in a fat suit, did I have my doubts? Well, after my parents went to see "Borat" Friday, they each e-mailed me to say it was kinda funny but "awfully gross." I just assumed that would drive many people to just say no, but gladly they didn't.

Sacha Baron Cohen rules the world, and for that it can only be a better place.

Errol Morris taking on Abu Ghraib

There are very few moviemakers in the world I like more than Errol Morris, and he's been quiet for far too long now since "Fog of War."

Details are sketchy so far, but word came this morning that he will reteam with Sony Pictures Classics on a pic about the treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison run by the U.S. military in Iraq.

This can only lead to good things. Morris has made so many great movies. Two that I'm particularly fond of are "Mr. Death," about an inventor of capital punishment machines who gets duped (maybe) into denying the Holocaust, and "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control," about four men, a lion tamer, a topiary sculptor, a robotics expert and a student of the noble naked mole rat. If you haven't seen either, I recommend them most highly.

Lauren Graham in production game

"Gilmore Girl" Lauren Graham is preparing for life after Stars Hollow by stepping up her production game, unveiling a slate of shows she'll executive produce via her Warner Bros. Television-based Good Game Entertainment banner.

With her name attached I'll watch them both, but one certainly sounds more promising than the other.

The first is "Objects of Desire," described as a sexy dramedy set at an international auction house. Not my cup of tea.

Much more promising is that she's hired Chris Rock's partner in crime, comedian Lance Crouther (who played the lead role in "Pootie Tang" and lived to tell about it), to develop a sitcom called "Praying on People" that will send up gospel cliches in the vein of Tyler Perry.

It will be about a successful standup comic who, after a breakdown, decides to leave showbiz and return to his inner-city neighborhood to find God. His brother is a preacher.

I like Tyler Perry's movies, but if you have the nerve, they're definitely ripe for parody, and Crouther is a very funny man, so this could turn out to be great.

Either way, it's good to know we'll have Lauren Graham around for a good while longer. She'll also be on the big screen with Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty" and with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore in something called "Because I Said So."

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I figured after the Academy finally recognized and awarded Morris that he would call it quits. Did you know the Academy didn't even screen Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap, Brief History of Time, or The Thin Blue Line? They were all 'flashlight' docs, meaning that the Academy members turned on their flashlights while screening to let the people in the booth go onto the next film.
(Other notable flashlight docs, Hoop Dreams, Crumb--at least some people in the academy saw fit to bestow Hoop Dreams with one nom--in editing.)

Reel Fanatic said...

The doco category constantly confounds me, Jeremy ... I never would have guessed that about Hoop Dreams, though ... I thought it got pretty much universal acclaim

Divinity said...

I'm always skeptical about releasing Christmas themed movies in November. Having worked in a movie theatre, I know that the theory is that there will be a second wave of ticket-buyers when the holidays actually arrive but I'm of the school of thought that Christmas stuff belongs in December and I'm finding a lot of friends also frustrated with the commercial push to start celebrating in October.
Had an amazingly un-PC day yesterday. First, with Borat and then an evening of new Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy and Studio 60. See blog. :)

marina said...

I really wanted to see Borat but I just knew the theatres were going to be insane so I've left it for viewing during the week when it should be a bit quieter! Can't wait!

Reel Fanatic said...

Sounds like the perfect Sunday to me, Divinity ... I'm saving a trip to your blog until I'm at work tomorrow, when I need the diversion!

Chris said...

It's an interesting theory that Borat will make more money in the second week when it expands, but I say there's absolutely no way it happens. The 800-screen limited release is misleading. Mainly, because many theatres, with a limited amount of prints, interlocked (showed 1 print in 2 or more auditoriums). I work at a theatre that did this very thing; so instead of 300 people in one screening, we had over 500 on quite a few showtimes.

I think most people who wanted to see this got a chance to see it. It would be amazing to see a movie top its already sound opening weekend, it may very well get close, but I say no way.

Also, I don't know if you've read these accounts of "disappointing" returns for Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away but I'm not buying it. For the individual companies distributing those particular pictures, it might be disappointing, but they went after the same demographic and they "split the vote" so to speak. Basically, families came out in droves and spent $40 million over the weekend on two movies, and there's a good chance that the people who didn't see one movie will see the other in the near future. I wouldn't look for those to drop mightily, either.

Just my two cents. I can't get over how box office returns are often scrutinized in the way they are; there's often more to the story.

Reel Fanatic said...

There often is more to the story indeed, Chris ... Lost in this one was that, if I'm not mistaken, at $19 million, "Flushed Away" had the biggest opening yet for an Aardman flick

Anonymous said...

Hilarious movie! Wrong in so many ways, but highly entertaining.

Reel Fanatic said...

I would even go so far to say wrong in every way, Emma, but that is indeed what made it so damn funny!

Warwick said...

The one moment of Borat I can't get out of my head was at end of the dinner scene. When the people tell him to get out and say the Sherriff is on the way. Borat, off camera in the background says, "Why you call police? Have the retard escaped?" That movie is so wrong, but so right.

Reel Fanatic said...

That was indeed priceless, Warwick ... I had to smile at one line that wasn't fall-down funny ... when he drops the prostitute back off at her house, he says "You pronounced my name right" ... For some reason, that just really made me laugh

Anonymous said...

BORAT is my hero and he better run for President in '08.

Reel Fanatic said...

Now that would be possibly the greatest movie of all time, Lewis ... unfortunately, though, he's turned his attention to another of his creations, the less-funny fashionista Bruno, for his next movie .... We should petition Borat to make the run!

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