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Archive for Monday, November 6, 2006

Borat’ pulls a fast one with $26.4 million debut

November 6, 2006

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— Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh alter-ego Borat made glorious returns at the box office, surprising Hollywood with a No. 1 debut.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," 20th Century Fox's big-screen incarnation of Cohen's Kazakh journalist from "Da Ali G Show," took in $26.4 million during its opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Box-office analysts had expected Disney's "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," with Tim Allen returning as St. Nicholas, to win the weekend. It was No. 2 with $20 million, followed by the Paramount-DreamWorks animated comedy "Flushed Away" in third place with $19.1 million.

The raucous, raunchy "Borat" follows the adventures of British comedian Cohen's TV journalist from Kazakhstan in a blend of fiction and improvised comic encounters as he travels the United States, meets and mocks Americans, and reports back to his home country.

"It is what you go to the theater for," said Hutch Parker, the studio's head of production. "You get that infectious, outrageous, interactive experience. There are people yelling at the screen, there are cheers."

"Borat" played in only 837 theaters, less than one-fourth the count for "The Santa Clause 3" and "Flushed Away." Averaging a whopping $31,511 a theater, "Borat" easily outdistanced "The Santa Clause 3," which averaged $5,784 in 3,458 cinemas and "Flushed Away," which averaged $5,152 in 3,707 theaters.

Fox plans to expand "Borat" to as many as 2,500 theaters this Friday.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," $26.4 million.

2. "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," $20 million.

3. "Flushed Away," $19.1 million.

4. "Saw III," $15.5 million.

5. "The Departed," $8 million.

6. "The Prestige," $7.8 million.

7. "Flags of Our Fathers," $4.5 million.

8. "Man of the Year," $3.8 million.

9. "Open Season," $3.1 million.

10. "The Queen," $3 million.

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