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First look: 'Bruno' loses his dazzle on Saturday, opens to $30.4 million

July 12, 2009 |  8:51 am

BrunoHorse After an eye-popping opening day Friday, "Bruno" had a not-so-glamorous weekend.

The second feature comedy featuring a Sacha Baron Cohen character interacting with real people sold a solid studio-estimated $30.4 million worth of tickets over its first three days. That's a very healthy performance given that Universal paid $42.5 million to distribute the film domestically and in key foreign territories and is receiving an unusually high distribution fee.

It's shockingly low, however, given that "Bruno" grossed $14.4 million on Friday. Based on the performance of "Borat," Baron Cohen's first film, and other R-rated comedies, it looked like the film would gross close to $40 million after that.

But  "Bruno" lost a lot of momentum on Saturday, earning only $8.8 million. "Borat," by contrast, earned more on its first Saturday than Friday. The big 39% drop forced Universal to estimate that the movie will gross $30.4 million, less than it and other studios were expecting on Friday.

It's a strong sign that while there was significant initial demand to see the movie on its first day, word-of-mouth may not be so strong and it won't go on to earn anything close to the $128.5 million "Borat" ultimately made in the U.S. and Canada.

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," had a very strong second weekend, helped by the fact that last weekend was a bit slower than normal due to July 4 falling on a Saturday. Fox's animated feature declined only 32%, grossing $28.5 million and bringing the total domestic gross to $120.6 million. That's almost exactly what "Ice Age: the Meltdown" earned in its first 12 days, a somewhat disappointing figure given that ticket prices have risen over three years and the new film is playing in more 1,600 theaters with one or more 3-D screens, where there is an extra surcharge.

In good news for Universal's pricey crime drama, "Public Enemies" also experienced a relatively modest drop of 44%. That's better than director Michael Mann's last film, "Miami Vice," but not as good as his 2004 picture "Collateral," and indicates the period picture starring Johnny Depp will have a decent but not fantastic run at the box office. It sold $14.1 million worth of tickets this weekend, bringing its total to $66.5 million.

As expected, Fox's low-budget comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper" had a dismal weekend, earning only $5 million from a primarily young female audience.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" remains strong on its third weekend. It dropped 43% to $24.2 million, bringing its domestic total to a spectacular $339.4 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Update (12:30 PM): For more on why "Bruno" stumbled on Saturday, as well as the huge overseas ticket sales for "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," see our updated box office story.

Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen in "Bruno." Credit: Universal Pictures