SUNDAY AM: I’m told it was another boffo box office weekend for Borat. The Fox spoof from the HBO comedy stylings of Sacha Baron Cohen raked in $9.7 million Friday and $11.3 mil for a $28.6 mil weekend and a new cume of $67.4 mil. Expanding from 837 to 2,566 theaters, Borat‘s gross receipts were up only 8%. Now there’s new media talk of a backlash. No matter, it’s thumpin’ every pic this weekend, including Sony’s Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferrell which was only the No. 4 movie with a $14.1 mil weekend opening from 2,264 playdates. (It earned $4.9 mil Friday and $5.7 mil Saturday.) But Fox’s A Good Year with Oscar-nominated Ridley Scott directing Oscar-winner Russell Crowe — is a bad, bad bomb. It’s just the #10 movie after eking out only $1.2 mil from 2,066 theaters Friday and $1.5 mil Saturday for just a $3.7 mil weekend. Ouch! I think moviegoers didn’t want to see one of Hollywood’s finest dramatic actors play against type, more than they’re fed up with Crowe’s bad-boy offscreen act. (Still, everybody’d better duck when Russell gets the bad news today.) Back to Borat, Fox suits look smart letting it build on buzz instead of just opening wide and playing in half-empty theaters. Overseas, Borat is bullying the competition with an international launch weekend of $18.6 million at only 993 playdates in 17 markets. So how do you know Borat‘s a biggie? Because the lawsuits have started! (First, two frat bros shown making racist remarks in the movie have the sued for fraud, saying filmmakers duped them into appearing in the movie by getting them drunk; and now a Kazakh village says it was tricked. And a guy claiming he’s the real-life Borat may also sue.) As for other pics, this weekend’s kiddie fare showed remarkable holding power one week out, with Disney’s Santa Clause 3 down only 14% and Paramount / Dreamworks’ Flushed Away down only 11%. The #2 and #3 movies respectively across the country, both were helped by the Veterans Day holiday (rug rats out of school) and the usual Saturday kid bounce. The Tim Allen / Martin Short starrer earned $5.3 mil from 3,458 playdates Friday and $7.1 mil Saturday for a $16.8 weekend (and a new cume of $41 mil) and the Aardman animated pic $5.2 mil from 3,707 theaters Friday and $6.8 mil Saturday for a $16.7 mil weekend (and a new cume of $39.9 mil). Amazing how the #2, #3, and #4 films this weekend finished so close together money-wise. Talk about studio flop sweat! Lionsgate’s horror flick Saw III ended #5 even three weeks out. The take was $2.2 mil Friday and $2.7 mil Saturday for what was a $6.5 mil weekend and a new cume around $69.8 mil. But supernatural newcomer The Return from Rogue Pictures, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, didn’t fare as well: it dropped from No. 6 with $1.8 mil from 1,986 playdates Friday and $1.8 mil Saturday down to 9th place after Saturday and only a $4.75 mil weekend. Instead, Brad Pitt’s Oscar-touted Babel from Paramount Vintage moved way up from #7 at the start of the weekend to #6 after Saturday. After expanding its theater count to 1,251, it took in $1.7 mil Friday and $2.2 mil Saturday for what wound up a $5.4 mil weekend and a new cume of $7.2 mil. No. 7 was Warner Bros’ The Departed, which continues to cement its status as Best Picture and Best Director frontrunner by breaking the $100 mil barrier. Marty Scorsese’s pic starring Jack Nicholson, Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg made another $1.5 mil Friday and $2.2 mil Saturday for what was a $5 mil weekend and a new cume of $109.5 mil. Meanwhile, Marty has a new first look deal with Paramount in his pocket. In 8th place, Disney/Buena Vista’s The Prestige proved still magical with another $1.6 mil Friday and $2 mil Saturday after four weeks out and a $4.8 weekend and a new cume of $46.2 mil. The other newcomers this weekend included two MGM offerings: Harsh Times, playing in 956 playdates, earned $717K Friday and $727K Saturday for an $1.8 mil weekend, while Ed Harris’ Copying Beethoven, debuting in only 26 theaters, made $20K Friday and $30K Saturday for a $74K weekend. Midnight’s Night Of The Living Dead 3D showing in 146 playdates made $77K Friday and $61K Saturday for a $171K debut. And, finally, IDP’s Come Early Morning, playing in 22 theaters, made $15K Friday and $21K Saturday for a $51K opening weekend. No #s available for either Picturehouse’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, starring Nicole Kidman in 4 playdates, or ThinkFilm’s F**K in 2 theaters. (Weekend #s include Sunday estimates.)
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