Borat opened in about 800 screens. Santa Claus 3 was screened in four times that amount. So who came out on top of the weekend box office?
Borat is No. 1 in the U.S. and North America, selling out theatre after theatre, earning $26.4 million in its opening week. Wa wa wee wa!
“The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” came in second with $20 million in receipts.
The cartoon “Flushed Away” opened at No. 3 with $19.1 million.
Here is the top 10 highest-grossing movies of the weekend:
1. “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” $26.4 million.
2. “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” $20 million.
3. “Flushed Away,” $19.1 million.
4. “Saw III,” $15.5 million.
5. “The Departed,” $8 million.
6. “The Prestige,” $7.8 million.
7. “Flags of Our Fathers,” $4.5 million.
8. “Man of the Year,” $3.8 million.
9. “Open Season,” $3.1 million.
10. “The Queen,” $3 million.
It is not a critic’s job to provide an accurate barometer of what the public will and will not like. We may act like it is sometimes, but the fact is no one critic can be a perfect barometer for every audience’s emotional, intellectual, spiritual etc. response to a given movie. Part of this reason, of course, is the lack of diversity in critics – more often than not (this critic included) they are White and/or Male. Another reason, however, is there simply is no singular audience response. Movies have a profound capacity to divide audiences in a way that I’ve noticed theatre, television, music, and even books do not. A film like, say, “The Godfather” or “Citizen Kane” may stand the test of time and be near-universally regarded as among the greatest movies ever made, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find people who didn’t like “The Godfather” or “Citizen Kane.” Rotten Tomatoes, the website which keeps track of critical reaction has, in its history, had seven movies score 100% on the tomatometer, and even fewer score 0. By contrast, most video games on its sister site, rottentomatoesgames.com, score 100% or 0% on a regular basis.
However, difficult as it is for the universal quality of movies to be analyzed, it is not as difficult as analyzing what makes us laugh. In comedy more than anything, I believe, one person’s “Jackass” is another person’s “Shakespeare in Love”. And so the best you can hope for in gauging a critic’s response is figuring out how much that critic’s tastes mesh with yours and planning accordingly.
With this in mind, I will inform you that inasmuch as comedy can be analyzed, and declared as universally “funny,” “Borat” is funny. Not just grinning, snorting, occasional belly laugh funny, but sustained, coughing, rolling-in-the-aisles funny. I haven’t been with an audience (and the audience was considerable) that laughed this much at a movie since “There’s Something About Mary.”
I will also inform you that, in the eyes of this critic, who loved the Farrelly Brothers’ 1998 masterpiece, “Borat” is no “There’s Something About Mary.”
Inasmuch as it is difficult to analyze what makes someone laugh, I find that statement difficult to explain. Perhaps this clip from YouTube will help me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb3IMTJjzfo
Everyone seen it? Good. The central conceit of “Throw The Jew Down The Well” is that Borat, as played by Cambridge native (and proud Jew) Sacha Baron Cohen, is a sexist, racist, anti-Semitic persona, which he has the uncanny ability of never breaking out of. However, the people he entertains in the bar aren’t in on the joke, and so what you’re seeing is the anti-Semitic ideals lurking just beneath the surface of the people in that Texas bar.
“Borat” — the full title is actually “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” — is basically a series of these sketches, with Cohen revealing various peoples’ sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and evangelical leanings, with the underlying message, “yeah folks, this stuff still exists.” Some of it’s funny. Some of it’s just plain chilling. Depends on your tolerance for sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and evangelical humour.
Personally, I found the evangelical humour funny. But then I have cousins who think I’m going to Hell. As someone who’s seen his share of anti-Semitism (and all but one of my closest friends are Jewish), I never particularly liked the “Throw The Jew Down The Well” sketch (my friends love it), and I don’t particularly care for genuine racism, sexism, and homophobia to be rampant in my humour either. I found “Borat” half chilling, half funny.
It won’t surprise me if this movie is considered a classic in years to come. Like “This Is Spinal Tap,” the movies’ other great mockumentary, it’s too original and its funny moments too funny for it not to be. Individual opinions, however, will vary.
There is some written material. The trailer – “this is Natalya. She is number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan” – opens the movie. There are a few similar parts scattered throughout. I found these to be among the funniest sequences while the audience stood stone silent. Also, there is a sequence that, while skillfully shot, is unlikely to appeal to any member of the audience: Cohen engaged in a wrestling match that appears to be gay sex with a naked man who is, shall we say, horizontally challenged.
Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian responsible for characters like Ali G and Borat, is set to bring another one of his many faces to the big screen.
The rights to “Bruno,” a film based on Cohen’s portrayal of a gay Austrian fashion reporter, have been snatched up by Universal Pictures for $42.5 million after a heated bidding war, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Cohen is currently making headlines with his character Borat, who’ll hit theatres Friday in “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
The fictional character, a politically incorrect news reporter from Kazakhstan, has sparked protests from Kazakh officials. In the movie, Cohen travels across the U.S., representing Borat’s home as a country that promotes of misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism and the comsumption of horse pee.
MySpace, the online networking website used by many recording artists as a marketing tool, is moving into the world of movies.
MySpace members around the world will get a special sneek preview screening of “Borat,” the new comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen, next Wednesday. The film is currently generating a lot of buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The exclusive screening will mark the international launch of MySpace’s Black Carpet screening series. The series kicked off Wednesday in the United States, when the website offered previews of Paramount Pictures’ September 22 release “Jackass: Number Two” in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
“Borat” is due to hit U.S. theatres on November 3 but MySpace members in 20 U.S. cities, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the U.K., and Australia will be able to see it first.
Day 1 of the Toronto Film Fest is complete, which means the real fun can begin.
The first day has traditionally been a quiet one, with the big stars not arriving until the weekend.
But just as the first day was coming to a close, out of hiding came the man known as Borat.
Hundreds of fans turned out to last night’s midnight premiere of “Borat,” and since tickets sold out seconds after they went on sale last week, hundreds were turned away without seeing the movie (the complete title is “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”).
But even though they will have to wait until November to see the movie, when it hits theatres, the fans did get to see a show, in the form of an appearance from Borat himself!
Borat (Sasha Baron Cohen AKA Ali G) showed up on the red carpet around midnight atop a horse-drawn carriage. Except the horse was not pulling the carriage; it was riding with Borat, as a handful of females pulled in lieu of the horse.
Borat is one of the most buzzed about films, and Cohen did not break character once as he walked the carpet.
Even Michael Moore showed up to see the film.
I started my day by visiting the International Trends Lounge, set up by NKPR and L.A.’s Backstage Creations. It’s a gift lounge for the celebrities to visit and pick up a few hot items, on the house.
Why do these companies come just to give stuff away to celebrities? As the various company representatives told me today, if a celebrity is pictured with their item, or better yet, mentions that they use their item, it’s like striking gold.
“Our lounge is unique,” said Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR. “Celebrities have the opportunity to not accept their gift bags, come in, sign them, and donate them to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.”
When I first walked in, I was greeted by children’s entertainer Sir Jerry, who once interviewed John Lennon when he was just 14 years old. That was before he became Sir Jerry. Yoko Ono will be in town this week; perhaps they can reminisce?
A representative from Teye Make-Up presented me with a gift bag containing some make-up that I will never use because that’s not my thing, but at least it means one less birthday present to buy. I reminded him that I was not a celebrity, nor female, but he was happy to present it to me anyway, and who am I to turn down a free item? Kiehl’s, a cosmetic company, also were going to hand me some of their products after I tried the men’s moisturizer, but I seem to have left without picking up any. My skin will not be the same.
Next to them was The Right Hand Gal, a jewelry company started by two sisters, Shawna and Randi Herlich. Even their mother and one of their daughters were helping out in the lab, making it a true family affair.
One of the similarities between all the companies there: when I asked which celebrity they hope stops by, the answer was always Brad Pitt. I must figure out who this Brad Pitt guy is and ask him for his secret.
Moving right along… Earthchild Clothing has a store that just opened in Toronto, yet the company was established in South Africa in 1992. They sell fashionable children’s wear that I wish they made in my size.
Even Timberland was in the house. No, not the beat-maker behind Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack (I was going to bring sexy back, but Justin beat me to it, damn) and Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous Girl… that’s Timbaland. This is Timberland, the clothing company, who gave Don McKellar a jacket earlier in the day.
I rushed out of there to head to my first Film Fest interview, the director of “Everything’s Gone Green,” Paul Fox.
The film, written by “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture” author Douglas Copeland, stars Paulo Costanzo (“Joey,” “40 Days and 40 Nights”) as a 30-year-old slacker, presented with an opportunity to launder money.
Fox was battling the flew but still went through a day of interviews. He plans to see the film called “Fido” before the fest ends, in case you were wondering what his suggestion was.
Much more on that film in the days to come, since I’ll be speaking with Paulo and the rest of the cast this weekend.