SUNDAY CENTS: One fine gay

Posted by · 11:19 pm · July 12th, 2009

Bruno*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s full frontal assault on audiences took the top spot at the box office this weekend with an estimated $30.4 million from 2,756 screens. Considering that “Borat” made $29 million from 837 screens in its debut and then $31 million from 2,566 in its second weekend, I think it’s safe to say that lightning hasn’t struck twice in the same spot here.

Universal can still be happy with its $40 million investment as the film has bright prospects overseas and on home video. But with almost 50% of the weekend figure coming from Friday alone, the signs are there for this to vanish from U.S. theaters pretty quickly. $65 or $70 million seems like the probable domestic total, or roughly half of what “Borat” finished with.

If you’re looking for an explanation, I’ve got one for you: Gay Sexual Content = Box Office Poison in 60% of the country.

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” retains the runner-up position with a slim 33% drop from its somewhat disappointing debut. Another $28.5 million in the bank brings the running total to $120.6 million and sets the film on track to finish in the $175 million range, or exactly what was expected of it. Ray Romano may actually have himself quite the successful film career, as long as we never have to see his face again.

The second weekend drop wasn’t quite as kind to “Public Enemies,” which fell 44% to $14.1 million and fourth place. For a film aimed at adults following up a frame with a deflated Saturday, that’s just not good enough. $66.5 million is the current total and the possibility of reaching $100 million is even smaller. It has one more chance next week to hold well with no direct competition opening but word of mouth seems to be average and the chances of the film being remembered come Oscar time now rely on a host of films released later in the year similarly under-performing.

Way back in seventh you’ll find Chris Columbus’s “I Love You Beth Cooper” with $5.0 million. It looks like I don’t have to eat my hat. Fox is making a bad habit out of releasing sub-TV movie quality, comedy star vehicles for B-list celebrities, with Rainn Wilson’s “The Rocker” faring even worse last summer. For Columbus, who is sadly one of the most successful directors of all time, this is the second worst debut of all his 13 films ahead of only “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Also of note: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” climbed to $339.2 million, sandwiching it between “Shrek” and “Shrek the Third” as the 18th highest grossing film of the decade, with more to come.

This week, I gave my $14.50 (thanks a lot, Arclight) to “Moon.” A few misguided directorial choices aside, I thought it was a real solid film and a great showcase for Sam Rockwell’s knockout talent. I also slammed down $9.50 for “Bruno” at the Vista’s Thursday midnight show. Great venue, great crowd, okay movie. Lots of laughs and some scattered brilliance but overall it’s just not as sharp or fresh as “Borat.” Maybe it never could be.

I didn’t see it this weekend, but I implore everyone in New York or Seattle to go see “Humpday.” Now that’s a gay-themed comedy I can fully get behind. (Pun very much intended!)

Next week is all “Harry Potter” all the time. The boy wizard has five previous films to look at for comparison and they are all pretty consistent. The only thing to consider is if “Twilight” has rained on the parade a little bit. Doubtful. I think we should see $150 million for the five days.

What do you guys think?  Is Potter old hat or does excitement continue to build with each installment?  Here are the weekend’s top box office grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, July 10, 2009

→ 19 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

19 responses so far

  • 1 7-13-2009 at 4:44 am

    John H. Foote said...

    The man can act which he proved in “Sweeney Todd” so I am not sure he does dumb, made for a reaction flicks like this garbage — hated it. Maybe it has the same sort of interest as the ‘Jackass” films, just to see how far he will go to make an utter fool of himself? I cannot explain his popularity nor why people like his work…not for me.

  • 2 7-13-2009 at 5:25 am

    Dominik said...

    I like about him that he is kind of an Guerilla-comedian, absolutely fearless (unless we doubt he really contacted a terrorist). Making a fool of those homophobe White Trash audience at the Ultimate Fighting event wasn´t harmless either, I bet.
    But a lot of those gay jokes tasted a bit like cold coffee. Was an ok movie, nothing more.

  • 3 7-13-2009 at 7:15 am

    Matt said...

    So pleased to see Chris Columbus fail once again.

  • 4 7-13-2009 at 8:03 am

    James D. said...

    John Foote is on target with his comparison to Jackass. If you had called it Jackass 3 and shown Johnny Knoxville in a few clips, I would have been one the wiser.

  • 5 7-13-2009 at 8:03 am

    McGuff said...

    My problem with Bruno is that it sort of took a different approach than Borat, and for that matter, Larry Charles other “documentary”, Religulous. In those films, the humor was lended from the interview subjects, who were a group littered with contradiction, hypocrisy, stupidity and more. I think it’s a sign of Borat’s genius that so many filed suit to prevent what they said from reaching the public — they were embarassed of themselves.

    However, in Bruno, it’s absolutely Baron Cohen all the time. He’s always willing to push the absolute boundaries and go to places we couldn’t imagine, but in this film, he doesn’t seek out the same in his subjects. I liked the few times when he did, like the Charity PR consultants that couldn’t pronounce “Darfur” or even his hunting guides, but they were too seldom. The entire movie was his character, and without using America enough for contrast, that’s a tough funny to sustain for 90 minutes.

  • 6 7-13-2009 at 8:20 am

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    Reports of walkouts during Bruno are true. I saw it myself when 10% of my paying audience walked out Sat night. Many by the 30 minute mark. The film should have been rated NC-17. I would not be surprised to see lawsuits filed against the MPAA for giving it an R instead of NC-17. There will be many who cry moral outrage and will try and make a stand. Having said that I never laughed harder during a film. It was painfully funny. Better overall and more consistantly funny than Borat. There’s no doubt it crosses lines (the mili vanili bit was insanely over the top-This scene cause half the walkouts) but I still couldn’t help laughing till I was buckled over.
    Here’s my review-


  • 7 7-13-2009 at 9:41 am

    BurmaShave said...

    It’s insane to talk about this hateful and uneven film as superior to BORAT. For once, the box office gets it right. It was funny, but not very. And not enough to make up for how unpleasant it was. Sascha would be wise to hang up this schtick.

  • 8 7-13-2009 at 11:27 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I can’t for the life of me see how “Bruno” merits an NC-17 rating. At all. Help me out here.

  • 9 7-13-2009 at 11:30 am

    James D. said...

    I think the scenes of sex between Bruno and his assistant, and the gyrating genitalia, and the swingers party, etc. I don’t know what warrants NC-17, but I think those should.

    I am no prude, but I felt pretty uncomfortable when people brought their 12 and 13 year olds.

  • 10 7-13-2009 at 12:27 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    What’s with all the hate for Jackass? Jackass Number Two was one of the best films of 2006.

  • 11 7-13-2009 at 12:51 pm

    John said...

    Has the novelty of everything SB Cohen worn off a little since ‘Borat’? Yes, of course. But I laughed harder during ‘Bruno’ than I did with ‘Borat’.

    And I’ll also add that some people left my theater, though, it was with about 5-10 minutes left. I guess some of those people just had it.

  • 12 7-13-2009 at 12:52 pm

    Clayton said...


  • 13 7-13-2009 at 12:53 pm

    Clayton said...

    (My comment was in response to Chad’s.)

  • 14 7-13-2009 at 12:55 pm

    James D. said...

    I second Clayton.

  • 15 7-13-2009 at 1:41 pm

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    When you have reports of people walking out of the theater all around the country for Bruno you have to think there was a reason. While I said I thought the movie was wildly funny it also dances in the nc-17 territory. Many people who went to see Bruno were actually surprised by some of its content. 15 people walked out in the first 30 minutes when I saw it. They did that because they thought it crossed the line. I honestly can’t remember seeing that reaction at a movie theater before. You honestly stand by “for the life of me”. You really believe that it was just the typical R-rated comedy. If you do you do, I did not.


  • 16 7-13-2009 at 3:24 pm

    Davidraider88 said...

    I saw it twice on Friday and did not see anyone walk out.

  • 17 7-13-2009 at 4:18 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Can’t say I saw any walkouts when I saw it either — each audience is different, I guess.

  • 18 7-13-2009 at 10:27 pm

    Ripley said...

    I don’t understand parents – some 12 or 13 year olds are more sexually mature or aware than some but I think there should be a cut-off. Another film where NC-17 and R don’t work, maybe there will enough of an outcry to make changes? I haven’t seen it myself – I am curious is there any other R rated film where sexuality, female for instance, ‘crossed the line’? The only film where I nearly walked out was Sin City, I thought it too sadistic for an R. And I felt so bad as I walked out seeing several pre-teens walking out with their stupid parents.

  • 19 7-14-2009 at 3:21 am

    Glenn said...

    It’s not the film’s fault dunderhead parents took their barely-teenage kids to see this movie.

    James, there is no sex scene in “Bruno” apart from the swingers party. Suggested, yes, but no actual sex scene.