Wassup? Brüno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a gay Austrian fashionista out to conquer Hollywood, takes in $30 million over the weekend in America, kicks in another $25 million internationally, hits the box-office sweet spot as numero uno, and yet the media reports it as a disappointment. “Brüno is no Borat,” said the numbers report in the New York Times, following a censorious Friday review of the film (“the joke is on you”). Huh? What? Brüno only cost a reported $42.5 million to make. It’s bound to be profitable, even if it totals less than the $128 million taken in by Borat, Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstan romp which opened to $26 million in 2006. Here’s the deal: Though Brüno beat the debut numbers of Borat, Brüno plays in three times as many theaters. By that (faulty) logic it should have made three times as much, about $75 million. Worse yet, Brüno dropped a tall 39 percent from Friday to Saturday, while Borat enjoyed an uptick. That’s a more serious concern. What does it all mean?
Is homophobia a factor? Baron Cohen was a riot on Letterman doing the Top Ten reasons to see Brüno: I laughed loudest at: “It’s just like Transformers, only not as gay.” Others did not.
Is there a backlash from those who object to the gay stereotyping even in the name of satire, claiming Brüno is complicit in the prejudices it claims to deride?
Or is it just the Brüno shock value? What scenes, if any, pushed the envelope for you?
And what about the NO REFUNDS policy? My wife, buying a ticket for Brüno in Massachusetts, was told unbidden that she wouldn’t be getting her money back if she walked out or didn’t like the movie. A friend in Detroit reports the same thing happened to him. Have any of you been told NO REFUNDS” when you bought a ticket? Do you think we deserve a refund when a movie doesn’t suit us or offends our sensibilities? If I didn’t see films for free at screenings, Michael Bay would owe me a fortune.
Do people like Borat more than Brüno? Well, do you? I’d like to know.