‘Borat’ unlikely king of global B.O.

Cohen comedy crushes U.K. competish

It’s Borat’s world now.

Though Sacha Baron Cohen may be despised in Kazakhstan, “Borat” stunned the international marketplace with a convincing launch weekend of $18.6 million at only 993 playdates in 17 markets during the Nov. 3-5 frame for Fox.

That figure pitchforked “The Devil Wears Prada” by 67% as “Borat” squelched the fashionista comedy’s effort to win a fifth straight foreign frame. “Prada” was playing at nearly four times as many locations as “Borat.”

Showing that its opening weekend was no joke, “Borat” added another $5.7 million during the next two weekdays to push its worldwide cume through Nov. 7 to $66 million. With the possibility of strong holds plus major-market launches still coming later this month in France, Spain and Australia, the offbeat spoof probably has plenty of gas in the tank.

Most of the traction came from the U.K., where the Cambridge-educated Cohen originated the Borat character. The pic blew all competitors out of the water with $11.87 million on 428 screens including Thursday previews of $1.73 million.

The whammo screen average of $27,727 was nearly four times better than the next-best figure, generated by the soph sesh of Lionsgate U.K.’s “Saw III” with $7,115.

The monster U.K. “Borat” bow was fueled by massive media coverage with reviews that were surprisingly strong. “A film so funny, so breathtakingly offensive, so suicidally discourteous, that strictly speaking it shouldn’t be legal at all,” raved Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.

Brit exhibs were understandably delighted with the “Borat” debut, and assert that word of mouth is “truly exceptional” even among over-35 auds who were not expected to flock to the film in such high numbers. After the huge bow, final cume projections for Blighty have been pushed upward from a pre-release estimate of $28 million to $38 million.

“Borat” was so powerful in Blighty that the Brit opening for Working Title comedy “Sixty Six” was steamrollered with $555,682 at 250, good enough for only eighth spot.

In Germany, “Borat” finished a solid second with $2.67 million at 234 in the face of the soph sesh of hit comedy sequel “7 Dwarfs — The Wood Is Not Enough,” which collected $4.8 million at 799.

“It was surprising because ‘Borat’ did not have much of a following here at all,” notes one exhib. “Fox has really been pushing the film. It’s gotten tons of publicity and now a lot of people know who Borat is, as well as Ali G and Sacha Baron Cohen.”

“Borat” also won in its launches in Denmark, Finland, Holland, Sweden and German-speaking Switzerland, and finished second in Belgium to “Prada.”

“Prada” continued to strut its stuff thanks to solid holdover biz, with third-place finishes in Germany and Italy — both in their fourth frame — and a victory in South Korea in its second weekend. As of Nov. 7, its foreign cume had cleared

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