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Box Office Update 11/3-11/5: Borat Greatest in the Country

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Okay, before going any further, I would like you to get the chuckles out of your system now. I am sure you have seen my weekend predictions in last Friday's column and witnessed my pathetic underestimation of Borat and then seen its successive plundering of this past weekend's box office. Go ahead, get it out now.

I have to admit I was suckered by the brilliant marketing ploy from Fox. They had slated a big release of 2000 theaters for this past weekend, then less than two weeks before its release they cut it back to just over 800. They claimed the cut back was because they feared Middle America wouldn't "get" Sascha Baron Cohen's wacky character. Foolishly, I believed them. I shouldn't have. I was truly and completely suckered. I should have been tipped off. The fact the advertising seemed to ramp up should have been a clue, the fact that Cohen kept appearing on every talk show, morning, noon, and night, in character should have tipped me off.

The gamble worked. By cutting down the theaters and escalating their marketing they made the movie the hottest ticket in town. I read reports of shows selling out and then over-selling. People were buying tickets to sit in the aisles just so they could see the movie. Word of mouth, incessant ads, and limited seating thrust this modest release right to the top. It took in $9 million on Friday alone, almost guaranteeing it would finish out on top.

Now, the plan will move forward to expand the film to the rest of the country next week and allow everyone else to get in on the joke. Personally, I cannot wait to get that shot. I am not familiar with Da Ali G show, and only know Cohen from his role in Talldega Nights, but this looks hilarious.

Following Borat, and not all that closely, was the number two film and another new release, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. The third film of Tim Allen's holiday trilogy is harmless fluff. It is not terribly good, nor is it awful, it just is. The only real reason to see this is for Martin Short, who seems to relish his role as the nefarious Jack Frost. The other reason would be your kids want to see it. I would recommend re-watching the original, which was actually pretty good, or better yet, watch Elf. Then, after the kiddies are tucked away, you can check out Bad Santa. Just an idea.

Following right on Clause's tail is the rat movie Flushed Away. This is Aardman Studios follow-up to last year's delightful Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit. They have stepped away from claymation, and into the world of CG animation. However, they did not leave their roots behind. The film replicates the look and feel of claymation to the point where you will swear you see fingerprints once in a while. What the CG affords them is a bigger palette to play with, the detail and action here is excellent. I thought the overall film was mediocre, but it does have a winning style and is enjoyable for the whole family.

Among the returning films, Saw III proved the front loaded nature of the horror genre, dropping over 55% in its second week. Still, it did have a respectable showing of nearly $15 million. This didn't even matter since a fourth entry of the torture series has been green-lighted with a planned release for next Halloween.

The Departed continues to impress. It may have fallen to fifth place, following a three week stay at number two, but it only fell off 21% from last week and has crossed the century mark. This marks only the second time Martin Scorsese has hit that mark, The Aviator was the other one. Come Monday it will probably become the biggest hit of his career. It is a great film and deserves all of the good that has happened to it. It was a close battle as Christopher Nolan's magician film, The Prestige, followed very closely. It is also an excellent film, and I can only hope that it continues.

There was one other new entry to the charts, The Queen. In its sixth week of release it has cracked the top ten, coming in at the anchor position. It took in nearly $3 million at less than 400 theaters. I saw the film, found it a little dry, but also quite entertaining.

Four films dropped from the list this week: Flicka (11), Marie Antoinette (18), Running with Scissors (14), and The Grudge 2 (15).

 

This Week

Last Week Title Wknd Gross Overall Week in release
1 N Borat $26,455,463 $26,455,463 1
2 N

The Santa Clause: The Escape Clause

$19,504,038 $19,504,038 1
3 N Flushed Away $18,814,323 $18,814,323 1
4 1 Saw III $14,805,871 $59,382,706 2
5 2 The Departed $7,722,388 $102,004,054 5
6 3

The Prestige

$7,505,268 $39,135,541 3
7 4 Flags of Our Fathers $4,419,657 $26,550,769 3
8 7 Man of the Year $3,665,580 $33,848,800 4
9 5 Open Season $2,968,832 $81,254,598 6
10 14 The Queen $2,909,966 $9,986,970 6

Box Office Predictions Recap
Hey, there's a reason I don't get paid for my predictions. This week boasts my single worst guesstimate ever with Borat. It will most likely stand the test of time as my worst one ever. For the rest, I don't really do all that bad despite only getting one position right. and a few gross predictions that were in the ballpark. There's always next week.

 

Actual

Prediction Title Wknd Gross Prediction
2 1 Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause $19,504,038 $21 million
4 2 Saw III $14,805,871 $18 million
3 3 Flushed Away $18,814,323 $15 million
5 4 The Departed $7,722,388 $6.5 million
6 5

The Prestige

$7,505,268

$5 million

7 6 Flags of Our Fathers $4,419,657 $4 million
1 7 Borat $26,455,463 $3.5 million
9 8 Open Season $2,968,832 $3.25 million
11 9 Flicka $2,702,185 $3 million
8 10 Man of the Year $3,665,580 $2.5 million

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About Draven99

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Don’t feel bad. If you haven’t seen Da Ali G Show, how could you know how deceitful Cohen can be?

    On Santa Clause 3 — I take my sone once a month to The Home Depot to build something together. This month, on Saturday, they tried to give my son a big poster for the movie, plus a sheet of stickers. I declined both on his behalf.

    That kind of devious marketing is probably a good reason for the #2 slot.

    And Elf sucked. Only Bad Santa is a good recommendation.

  • Ty

    Borat succeeded where Snakes on a Plane couldn’t.

    Also, you’ve never seen Da Ali G Show? Borat didn’t play where you live?

    Where do you live?

    I didn’t realize you were that sheltered.
    Perhaps you should hang up your reigns as box office predictor, and stick to reviews. (Your reviews are good, but you might live in too small of an area to accurately predict the market, especially if BORAT didn’t play in your area)

    I live in the SF Bay Area (population close to 8 mil now), and every theater large and small had showings of BORAT. To hear that you couldn’t even see it, well, makes me curious as to where you live (as in city or metro).

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Phillip,
    RE: Elf, bite your tongue! I loved the movie.

    Ty,
    I think SoaP’s marketing got lazy, relying purely on internet hype, which has an upper limit of around $15-16 million for the opening weekend.

    I have heard of Da Ali G Show,but it isn’t anything I felt the urge to watch.

    THere was a theater about 90 minutes away that was showing Borat, but I did not have time to make it out there. I figured this weekend I will, when it is everywhere. I live north of NYC, but do not often have the ability to travel very far to see movies, so I rely on the local multiplexes, I have 4 within 30 minutes, n one luckyenough to be chosen. I wonder if certain theater chains were singled out? The main theater by me, a 12 screen theater is undergoing major renovations/additions and only have 4 screens, and will only have 4 through the holiday’s. I was speaking to the manager there and was told that a lot of studios don’t want to bother with them becuase of the limited screens. I think this is going to make for a painful holiday movie season…..

    Thanks for the kind words about the reviews. I do the predictions for fun, I generally do a close to decent job, but I shouldn’t be taken as any type of official thing or anything. I just figure the longer I do it the better I may get. Kinda like writing.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Elf bored me to sleep the first time I watched it. I figured it was because I was on vacation, and tired, and distracted. So like a raging idiot, I watched it again. So many people said good things, after all.

    It still bored me, because it still sucked. It sucked three ways: hard, fast, and continually. The putrid excresence rotted up the screen. It was awful.

    Bite that, buddy!

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    OK, OK, you didn’t like it. I still think it is a better choice than SC3.

    How about A Christmas Story for a holiday classic?

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    You couldn’t pay me to watch SC3, so I might even agree with you on that one. Elf put me to sleep, but it didn’t make me want to vomit.

    Yes, I love A Christmas Story, and your Bad Santa recommendation was great. Just avoid Elf as a slightly-less-painful cousin of SC3, that’s all I’m saying. :-)

  • http://www.jewels-richardson.blogspot.com Jewels

    Chris, don’t take this as a sign you should give up predictions regarding movie showings. Generally you do a great job. Chalk this one up to devious pre-marketing and you just fell for it. It happens.

    I enjoy your writing, keep it up. Phillip Winn is just being mean ;) he must have been having a bad day. although he’s absolutely correct regarding Elf.

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Thanks, Jewels.
    I don’t plan on stopping, but perhaps a “For entertainment purposes only” disclaimer? :)

    Man, why all the hate for Elf? Maybe I should dust off my DVD and review it for the upcoming holiday season.