Sacha Baron Cohen’s equal-opportunity offender Bruno is barging into theaters this weekend, promising enough outrageous shtick to lure in the most reluctant of moviegoers, if only to see how far he’ll go. While Twentieth Century Fox, Cohen’s Borat distributor, was tasked with selling a strange Kazakhstani journalist to audiences, Universal is in the fortunate spot of marketing Bruno like a sequel. The studio’s over-the-top campaign shows that they may even be having a little fun with their gay Austrian fashion reporter. Now, with Bruno opening in 2,757 theaters, the one question is how well Baron Cohen’s flamboyant character will play in more conservative parts of the U.S.
1. Bruno: $37 million
In 2006, Borat opened in only 837 theaters to $26.4 million, a stunning debut at the time. Bruno is sure to gross more than that this weekend, continuing this summer’s trend of successful R-rated comedies. The under-35 crowd is definitely the core audience here, with the film sure to play well with college kids. But whether or not Baron Cohen’s homophobia satire resonates as a joke, or only as a furthering of gay stereotypes, will be the topic of discussion once the movie is seen. But, really, generating discussion can’t be a bad thing for the box office.
2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: $22 million
While its opening weekend didn’t live up to those of its predecessors, Ice Age 3 was still a hit with the younger set and their parents. And, no, it didn’t beat out Transformers 2 last weekend, but that should all change this frame. With nothing in its way, expect its sophomore session to drop in the 45 percent range with help from all those 3-D showings.
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: $19 million
While we won’t dwell on what it says about our society that Transformers 2 is the second fastest movie ever to hit the $300 million milestone (behind the beloved The Dark Knight) we will say that that is quite an achievement. But now it’s time for the film to start dropping off, and Bruno is just the movie to knock it from its perch. Still, expect a 55 percent hold: Some guys just can’t get enough of Megan Fox and transforming robots.
4. Public Enemies: $13 million
Johnny Depp’s John Dillinger flick bowed to a respectable $25 million. And its mid-week numbers have helped push it up to $50 million. The big question for this film is how it will hold during its second session – that point is crucial, actually, since the studio is banking on at least a $100 million gross. Some insiders are predicting a steep drop, but I think Public Enemies is likely to fall just under 50 percent.
5. The Proposal: $7 million
This Sandra Bullock romantic comedy has performed remarkably well, grossing $100 million in three weeks and never dropping more than 45 percent. Even if this weekend’s fall puts it off by 50 percent, The Proposal will still be deemed a remarkable success for the over-40 movie star.
I Love You, Beth Cooper: $6 million
Director Chris Columbus has had opening weekends as high as $90 million (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and as low as $6 million (Heartbreak Hotel). Unfortunately, his latest film looks like it’s destined for the latter category. EW gave I Love You, Beth Cooper, starring Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere, a positive review, but other notices haven’t been so kind. Let’s hope Columbus has better luck with his next outing.
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