Borat, Family Films Trump Openers

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for November 10-12, 2006

By John Hamann

November 12, 2006

The driving instructor got an unpleasant surprise when Borat sneezed on him.

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It was another wacky weekend at the box office, as the second frame of Borat is just as awe inducing as its first amazing weekend. With an extra 1,700 venues to work with, Borat is the strangest multi-weekend box office champ we've seen in a very long time. So strong were Borat, The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away, they left new openers with huge names in the dust. Performing okay were Stranger than Fiction and Babel, but disaster awaits Sarah Michelle Gellar's The Return and there's even worse news for Russell Crowe's A Good Year.

The number one film of the weekend is again, somehow, Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen's creation not only repeats at number one, but actually increases its take over last weekend. The 20th Century Fox release earned $29.0 million in its second frame, this time from 2,566 venues instead of last weekend's 837. The mockumentary had a venue average of $11,301 � which is well off last weekend's average of $31,607, but still very healthy indeed. Borat now sits with a total of $67.8 million after only ten days of release, and is an easy lock to earn well over $100 million.

The easiest film to compare Borat to now is The Blair Witch Project, the little film that changed the horror movie industry forever. The Blair Witch Project opened in July of 1999 at only 27 venues, where it earned over $1.5 million. Over its first frame, it had a venue average of $56,000. In its second weekend, distributor Artisan added four more venues, and the handheld scarefest earned $2 million (venue average: $64,000). It went wide in its third weekend, going out to 1,101 venues, where it earned a Borat-like $29.2 million. It was here, in its third weekend, that it peaked. Artisan brought the venue count up to 2,142 venues in its fourth weekend, and the film earned $24.3 million, off 17%. In the following weekends it lost 40%, then 50%, then 42% of its weekend to weekend audience. The film, which was made for only $35,000, finished with $140.5 million. Borat, at $18 million, obviously cost a lot more to make, but if drop-offs in the coming weekends aren't too severe, it should finish with a larger domestic gross than The Blair Witch Project. The question now is whether Borat is a flavor of the month, like Blair Witch, or if it can sustain its momentum and keep its drops below 40% in the weeks to come.


Second spot goes to The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, which earned a solid $16.9 million this weekend from 3,458 venues, and dropped only 13.4% compared to last weekend. Our top three films either increased their take over last weekend, or dropped minimally, which means only good news for the overall box office. The Santa Clause 3 now sits with $41.1 million.

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