The weekend belonged to Sacha Baron Cohen and “Brüno” – had it gone down differently it would have made the last ten months of tireless promotion seem kind of over the top. Though “Brüno” was the clear winner with $30 million in its first three days, this is not exactly the win that Universal may have hoped for when it picked up the rights to Baron Cohen’s latest mockumentary. Not only did “Brüno” fail to blow those “Borat” percentages out of the water, but the prospects of the film showing “Borat” sized legs through the coming weeks is almost non-existent… unless watching two men, er, kiss suddenly becomes a lot more acceptable in the heartland.
|2||Ice Age 3D||$28,500,000||$120,573,000|
|7||I Love You, Beth Cooper||$5,000,000||$5,000,000|
|9||My Sister’s Keeper||$4,180,000||$35,801,000|
|10||Taking of Pelham 1 2 3||$1,600,000||$61,194,000|
“Brüno” opened on Friday on 2,756 screens and brought in an estimated $14.2 million. That’s a per screen average $5,145 which is huge for an R-rated film (in fact that’s almost as good as the $16.7 million/$5,119 per that “The Hangover” managed five weeks ago). But when we look at the initial performance of Baron Cohen’s first trip to America in “Borat”, the “Brüno” numbers look a bit less glamorous.
In November of 2006 “Borat” opened on 837 screens and had an opening weekend of $26.4 million – for a per screen average of $31,607. See where I’m going with this? Although “Brüno” made more money (which is the story Universal is pushing this morning) “Borat” was far and away more profitable considering the number of theatres it opened – in fact, until the “Hannah Montana” concert film came along, “Borat” held the record for the number one film debuting on the fewest screens.
Universal is also touting the fact that “Brüno” is doing well overseas – $23 million or “15% ahead of ‘Borat’ in the same markets.” What they don’t want to talk about is the fact that this weekend is probably as good as it is going to get for “Brüno”. The film may be at 70% on RottenTomatoes, but that won’t automatically translate to audience attendance. “Brüno” had a steeper than expected drop from Friday to Saturday – from $14.2 million down to $9 – though many R-rated films experience a similar drop as they go up against the Saturday family crowd. but solid performers like “The Hangover” find a way to rebound during the week.
The problem for Baron Cohen is that “Brüno” won’t have time to ride out the Saturday resurgence of “Ice Age 3D” before coming up against the mother of all “All-Ages” films – “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. Combine the magical spell Harry will cast starting Wednesday with the icky-gay factor that is preventing some people from catching second (or even first) viewings of “Brüno” and this movie has almost no chance of seeing anything near the $128 million that “Borat” made.
If things aren’t looking overwhelmingly rosy for “Brüno”, they appear down-right apocalyptic for Fox’s “I Love You, Beth Cooper”. The teen-romance from director Chris Columbus opened on 1,858 screens for a debut weekend total of only $5 million. With a rating of 11% on RottenTomatoes, they were probably lucky to get that. The movie stars the perky, young Hayden Panettiere and only cost $18 million to make, which would seem to guarantee a profit. But unless something radical happens, “Beth Cooper” won’t be on screens long enough to recoup that investment.
In holdover news, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” broke $100 million on Friday… let’s see how much farther it can get before “Harry Potter” gives it the binding spell on Wednesday. “Transformers 2” continued its box-office rampage though, unlike last week, the film had to give over to the unambiguously bigger numbers of “Ice Age 3D”. At $339 million domestic, “Transformers 2” is far and away the biggest hit of 2009 and it now ranks #16 on the list all-time grosses – passing “Spiderman 3”.
I’ll be reporting on everything “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” beginning Thursday. The initial reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and the fans have been waiting for this film a really, long time. How much money will that translate into at the box-office? Stay tuned…