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'Bruno' starts off strong on the box-office runway, then stumbles


When is success a disappointment?

The opening weekend of "Bruno" exemplified how one film can be both in Hollywood. Universal's outrageous R-rated comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen opened to a studio-estimated $30.4 million in the U.S. and Canada and $25 million overseas ($5 million of which came from territories owned by other distributors).

Universal paid financier Media Rights Capital $42.5 million to distribute the movie domestically and in eight key foreign countries and negotiated a hefty distribution fee of 25% -- money it takes off the top for its services. The studio is thus well on its way to earning a healthy profit on the project. MRC is also in a good position, having sold rights to the movie for a bigger sum than it costs to produce, and will make even more from its cut of the revenue.

But those totals mask a worrisome trend for the picture: After a strong start on Friday, domestic ticket sales for "Bruno" declined 39% on Saturday. Such a huge drop is rare and almost always a harbinger of bad buzz and a short box office run for a film. The odds of "Bruno" earning a total of even $100 million, let alone the $128.5 million worth of tickets that "Borat" sold in the U.S. and Canada, are very low.

The reason is simple: Many people just didn't like "Bruno." The film's Cinema Score -- an average grade given by a sample of those who see the picture -- was C, very low given what easy graders moviegoers generally are. It's impossible to know for sure what audiences disliked, but the envelope-pushing amount of male nudity no doubt played a major role.

PublicDepp Results this weekend were mixed in a different way for Universal's "Public Enemies." Second weekend performance is key for R-rated adult dramas, since they usually don't have a huge opening. The Michael Mann-directed film starring Johnny Depp declined 44%, a figure that was slightly deflated since Saturday, July 4, was a dead day at the box office last week.

With decent -- but not great -- ticket sales of $14.1 million, the film now stands at $66.5 million and is heading toward a final domestic gross just north of $100 million. Foreign earnings in the 17 countries where it has opened are a similarly so-so $16.7 million after two weeks. Given the movie's production budget of a little over $100 million, that's hardly as bad as other adult dramas like "State of Play" and "Duplicity" have done this year, but not a big success either.

Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" continued the trend of animated features holding on strong at the box office, declining only 32%. The third movie in the series from Blue Sky Studios earned $28.5 million this weekend. After a mixed start last week, however, it has grossed $120.6 million, about the same as the first 12 days of "Ice Age: The Meltdown" in 2006 despite ticket price inflation and surcharges at the over 1,600 theaters where it is playing in 3-D.

International markets continue to be phenomenal for "Dawn of the Dinosaurs," however. It earned $98 million overseas this weekend, bringing its foreign total to a hefty $327.1 million.

"Ice Age" will likely lose a lot of its box office momentum this Wednesday when Warner Bros. opens "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" worldwide.

Fox opened its low-budget romantic comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper" and, as expected, earned a dismal $5 million.

In limited release, Magnolia opened Sundance Film Festival favorite "Humpday" at two theaters and earned a decent $29,000.

Summit Entertainment expanded "The Hurt Locker" from nine theaters to 59. Combined with a single theater in Canada controlled by a different distributor, the Iraq War drama earned a healthy $623,000, or $10,383 per location. Its total ticket sales are $1.1 million.

Samuel Goldwyn Films debuted "Blood: The Last Vampire," based on a popular Japanese anime feature, to a not-so-hot $103,000 at 20 theaters, giving it an average take of only $5,150.

Here are the top 10 films at the domestic box office, based on studio reported estimates and data from Hollywood.com:

1. "Bruno" (Universal/Media Right Capital): $30.4 million on its opening weekend.

2. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (Fox): Declined only 32% on its second weekend to $28.5 million, bringing its total after 12 days to $120.6 million.

3. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (Paramount): $24.2 million, a 43% drop on its third weekend, bringing the Michael Bay-directed event picture to a domestic total of $339.2 million.

4. "Public Enemies" (Universal/Relativity): $14.1 million, a decent decline of 44% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $66.5 million.

5. "The Proposal" (Disney): Dropped only 18% on its fourth weekend to $10.5 million. Total ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada: $113.7 million.

6. "The Hangover" (Warner Bros./Legendary): A stunningly small drop of 12% on its sixth weekend, the R-rated comedy grossed $9.9 million. Domestic total is now $222.4 million.

7. "I Love You, Beth Cooper" (Fox): Opened to a weak $5 million, in line with expectations.

8. "Up" (Disney/Pixar): $4.7 million on its seventh weekend, a 29% drop. Total domestic gross: $273.8 million.

9. "My Sister's Keeper" (Warner Bros./New Line): $4.2 million, down 28% on its third weekend. Total in the U.S. and Canada is $35.8 million.

10. "The Taking of Pelham 123" (Sony/Relativity): $1.6 million, down 37% on its fifth weekend. Close to finishing its run with so-so domestic ticket sales of $61.5 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo (top): Sacha Baron Cohen at the Hollywood premiere of "Bruno." Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

Photo (bottom): Johnny Depp in "Public Enemies." Credit: Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures

Comments () | Archives (13)

Bruno is suffering from word-of-mouth. The 82-minute one-joke film is boring.

The power of social media! Instant word of mouth really separates the men from the boys in movies now. Or rather, the good from the bad from the ugly.

Check out my complete thoughts here:


If there had been as much female nudity as male nudity, I wonder if the profits would have been higher.

This goes to show how dumb movie executives really are. After the success of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", they gave its star the green light to make what are essentially clones of that movie. And since the movie had an unusual premise that works only once, the clones flubbed. And now the same with "Borat", another movie with an unusual premise whose clone is boring, now that the element of uniqueness has been removed. With all the bright people and exciting and creative scripts floating around the movie industry, it's a shame that they don't seem to learn. Success that is unique is just that, unique.

Glad to see this drop off. This movie is an insult to GLBT citizens and to the people who were so rudely hoodwinked. Boycott this film so another will not be made.

I actually counted 128 very intelligent, good reasons why NO ONE needs to see this very disturbing film! My only regret is that a number of ill-deserving folks received my $12.00
entrance fee, and yes I did boycott the goodies counter!

this film is so dull

LAJimm, people don't "boycott" a film. If someone doesn't like a film, they simply don't go see it. Is it possible that what you really want is to ban the film? I'm gay and I'm not insulted by the movie at all. What I do find worrying is the tendency among some gays to be hypersensitive and to want to ban and censor images that might make gays look bad.

I loved both of these flicks - Borat & Bruno - but after this weekend was bummed that all Cohen's Ali G show characters are done for good...

But there's an ENN news vid on Youtube that shows two times Sacha Cohen has done Borat in the past 8 months - even though he said he'd never play him again at the end of 2007!

So maybe there's still hope for Borat fans! :)

FYI, That ENN news video is here, btw:

- Beth

Bruno is a funny film with a limited audience, and won't appeal to the yahoos who laughed at Borat (and are the butt of the jokes in Bruno). Having said that, only an uptight wuss would find it offensive to "GLBT citizens," which is such a wonderfully pretentious PC moniker in and of itself! You do Bruno proud, LAJimm.

There could be a number of reasons why you might like Bruno, e.g., if your temperature exceeds your IQ.

Did not maintain the same frequency that borat managed to maintain . Although when it was operating at a high frequency and drawing the crowd in like an invisible magnet you could tell sleeping memories of the old school sacha baron Cohen ie the talk show - the genius was back !!

bruno is a great movie. anyone with half a brain and is open minded will enjoy the film and see it for what it is. If you find it offensive then yes you wont enjoy it. But hopefully you ask yourself why you would find it offensive.


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