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Monday, July 13, 2009

'Bruno' dominates über all with $30.4m bow, June 10-12, 2009

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest comedy Bruno out-poshed Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to land in the top spot this weekend, debuting with a strong $30.4 million. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper finished weak in seventh with just $5 million. Without a blockbuster opening to headline the weekend, the top ten films slipped 5% from last year's comparable frame, and 21% from the same weekend in 2007.

Thanks to a hilarious and omnipresent marketing campaign from Universal, moviegoers packed in theaters to see everyone's favorite Austrian fashion celebrity Bruno, aka Sacha Baron Cohen, take on America. Debuting in 2,756 theaters, the film amassed $30.4 million, averaging a strong $11,040 per theater.

But despite the strong weekend Universal has reason to be concerned about those shaved legs. After an opening day haul of $14.4 million, early projections had Bruno finishing with $35-40m for the weekend. But a disastrous drop in ticket sales on Saturday by 39% to $8.8 million reset totals to $30.4 million, and potentially lower when final estimates come in on Monday.

Despite solid reviews from critics, audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a C grade, indicating word of mouth may be weak. Featuring shock gags, controversial situations and a healthy dose of full frontal on-screen male genetalia, it seems likely American audiences weren't quite prepared for a full dose of Bruno.

The debut was larger than Cohen's sleeper hit Borat, but not by much considering the 2006 film opened in just 837 theaters for a whopping $26.5 million. That works out to a $31,607 per theater average, and the film finished its domestic run with a phenomenal $128.5 million. Don't expect similar numbers from Bruno though, particularly with internal numbers showing rapidly declining market share. Internationally, Bruno took in a solid $20 million in eight overseas markets.

Maintaining its second place slot was Fox/Bluesky Studios' Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which slipped just 32% from its opening frame to $28.5 million. In 12 days the 3D computer-animated comedy has grossed $120.6 million, nearly matching the performance of its immediate predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown. Helped by heavy runs in 3D equipped theaters, it will be interesting to see how the film will fare next weekend when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince rampages through the box office. Worldwide the film has taken in $312 million.

Falling 43% to third was last week's champ Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which after two consecutive weeks at the top of the charts finished the weekend with $24.2 million. The $200 million budgeted blockbuster has now amassed $339.2 million in 19 days, blowing past the entire domestic gross of its predecessor Transformers, which took in $319.1 million in 2007.

At its current pace, Revenge of the Fallen appears headed towards a $400+ million domestic gross. Overseas, the Michael Bay pic has amassed $364.5 million.

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