'Borat' Shticks to First

by Brandon Gray
Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat
November 13, 2006

Handily fending off a poor spate of new releases, Borat invaded the entire nation, tripling its theater count, and remained the top draw for the second weekend in a row. The family movies, The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away, claimed second and third place again, respectively, enjoying traditionally strong Veterans Day weekend holds.

Overall business was about even with last year when Chicken Little spent a second weekend in first place. The second frame of November is usually topped by a holdover, while the last time the Top 3 repeated was the weekend of July 22, 2005 with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wedding Crashers and Fantastic Four.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan bagged $28.3 million from 3,000 screens at 2,566 theaters. 20th Century Fox's mock-and-shock movie has pulled in $67.1 million in 10 days, out-paced only by Wedding Crashers, the first Scary Movie and American Pie 2 among R-rated comedies.

Fox reported that Borat's 837 holdover theaters were down about 30 percent, which means they accounted for $18.5 million of the movie's $29 million weekend and averaged $22,000 per site. The 1,729 additional theaters contributed $10 million, averaging less than $6,000 per site. In other words, the original theaters on average saw more than three and a half times the business of the new theaters.

Like its predecessors, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause had a small second weekend drop, easing 13 percent to $16.9 million, but its $41.1 million in 10 days pales compared to The Santa Clause 2's $60 million through the same point. A tick behind at $16.6 million, Flushed Away was down a mere 12 percent and has scrounged up $39.8 million in 10 days, well ahead of the last Aardman animated feature, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction
Though Stranger Than Fiction posted a ho-hum $13.4 million at 2,264 theaters, it was the only debut to register more than a blip. The "What If?" comedy's start was less than average for its sub-genre, and it was lead actor Will Ferrell's lowest-grossing wide opening since becoming a headliner. Distributor Sony claims the picture cost less than $30 million to make, and its exit polling suggested that 55 percent of the audience was female and 53 percent was under 30 years old.

Babel didn't translate in wide release, grabbing $5.6 million at 1,251 locations. The ensemble drama featuring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett sold fewer tickets than other recent pictures of its ilk, like Crash, Syriana, The Constant Gardener and Magnolia.

Russell Crowe in A Good Year
Among other new releases, The Return, Rogue Pictures' generic horror movie, reaped a weak $4.5 million at 1,986 theaters. Director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe's romantic comedy-drama, A Good Year, was ignored, mustering $3.7 million at 2,066 venues or less than half of thematically-comparable pictures like Elizabethtown or Jersey Girl. Distributor 20th Century Fox said that the audience was 64 percent female and 88 percent over 25. Last and least, Harsh Times, an MGM-distributed crime drama with Christian Bale, scraped up a paltry $2 million at 956 sites.

Review - Stranger Than Fiction
11/6/06 - 'Borat' Bombards the Top Spot
11/14/05 - 'Chicken' Licks 50 Cent, 'Zathura,' 'Derailed'
7/25/06 - 'Chocolate,' 'Wedding' Take Cake

Weekend Box Office Results
"What If?" Comedies

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Nov. 12 and was revised on Monday, Nov. 13 with actual grosses.

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6/20 Will 'Toy Story 4' Make a Bid for the Animated Opening Weekend Record?
6/16 'Men in Black' & 'Shaft' Become Latest Summer Sequels to Disappoint
6/13 'Men in Black' and 'Shaft' to Continue a Summer of Slumping Sequels
6/9 'Pets 2' and 'Dark Phoenix' Top Weekend Box Office, Though Both Underperform
6/6 'Secret Life of Pets 2' and 'Dark Phoenix' Both Struggle at the Box Office
> MORE: News | Features
DAILY: Monday, 6/24 (30 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Toy Story 4' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Toy Story 4' #1
WEEKLY: 'Men in Black 4' Tops the Week with $41.9m
DAILY: Thursday 6/20, (48 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 6/19 (31 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 6/18 (31 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added