UPDATE: Rupert wants Borat 2, and Fox wants Borat 2. This was first spilled today by Murdoch himself who claimed Sacha Baron Cohen “has signed up” for the sequel. Now varied sources are telling me there have been conversations about it but Murdoch “misspoke. He thought there was a deal. But there is no deal.” Sheesh, look at the detail Murdoch gave: The Financial Times quotes him as saying Cohen will start the movie once he’s done with Universal’s Bruno, the gay Austrian fashion guru also featured on his HBO gig. But my latest info is that the sequel isn’t locked down by any means… (OK, I gotta ask: Is Rupe, who’ll be 75 in March, starting to lose it? Or was he just overly optimistic? This is, after all, the kind of news that impacts the share price…) Plenty of consternation at Fox over the boss’s statements today. Rupe also took the opportunity to explain why Fox doesn’t have Bruno. “Murdoch said his 20th Century Fox film division did look at buying the rights to the Bruno movie but that they were not prepared to outbid rivals as Cohen ‘would not even show us the script’,” the FT says. True, the finance structure of the Bruno pic was hinky given the gross participations and the limited territories available. But no one could understand why Fox spent all that marketing money to make Sacha a star for someone else’s studio. In my opinion, Fox should have paid whatever was necessary to stay in the Sacha Baron Cohen business. (Like, duh, $18 mil Borat generated huge profits for News Corp: stats released today by the company claim revenue from film and TV studios soared 41% to $2.27 billion from $1.61 billion, partly reflecting strong DVD sales of Ice Age: The Meltdown and X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as box office moolah of Borat and The Devil Wears Prada.) What I find interesting about Borat 2 is that, for months, Fox execs who were outbid for Bruno privately told reporters how difficult it would be for Sacha to fool people in another mockumentary. What a load of crap that was. Who also looks moronic? The Los Angeles Times‘ Lorenza Munoz, who wrote that incredibly erroneous story back in November claiming Universal “may already be feeling buyer’s remorse” for Bruno. As if anybody cared about those stupid lawsuits which judges are already tossing out. (After that article, Uni briefly considered freezing out Munoz, who’s on that studio’s beat; but execs there decided instead to take the high road.) Anyway, we all know that the $42.5 mil paid by Uni for Bruno looks like the Deal Of The Century considering Borat‘s $248 mil worldwide take so far. And that’s not even mentioning how Cohen, who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, is considered the Oscar broadcast’s ratings saviour come February 25th after the hilarious riff he did at the Golden Globes. My bet is that, for Borat 2 to become a reality, Fox now has to pay through the nose for Sacha et al. (There’s even been a quiet renegotiation on the original Borat to reward them for the success — which is customary in Hollywood.)
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