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Kazakh comedy blitz triples Fox pleasure

Studio expands 'Borat' to 2,566 engagements

Fox is getting a do-over of sorts this weekend on its left-field hit “Borat.”

After dramatically slashing the number of prints on the pic for its opening frame, Fox still wound up at No. 1. Now the studio will expand the R-rated pic to 2,566 engagements to try and mop up any B.O. bucks it missed by cutting its print count.

Studio, meanwhile, sends its “A Good Year” into a frame filled with arty pics, which include an expansion of “Babel” and the lit comedy “Stranger Than Fiction.”

With “Borat” the frontrunner for the frame, Fox feels that, with word of mouth swelling, pic will play as well outside the primo urban centers where it raked in huge per-playdate numbers last frame. With “Borat” taking in over $3 million on Monday and Tuesday, pic should easily fend off any competish to land at No. 1 again.

“Borat” will also likely prevail on the foreign front after a socko international launch of $18.6 million at only 993 playdates in 17 markets last weekend, with U.K. auds accounting for nearly two-thirds of that total.

Fox, meanwhile, will be shooting for more urbane auds with Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year,” the story of a London trader who opts out of the fast lane for life at an inherited chateau.

Pic, starring Russell Crowe and going into 2,066, is tracking slightly better with females over 25. But it’s one of a handful of pics heading into the fall fray this frame that will try to tempt upscale auds.

Paramount Vantage has “Babel,” the starry ensemble pic that will move from 35 to 1,251 playdates.

Pic, which has taken in $5.2 million in two limited release frames, will roll out in fewer engagements than “Year” and Sony’s “Stranger” but may be able to draw more interest with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Sony will bow “Stranger,” starring Will Farrell as a man who finds his fate dictated by a novelist, on 2,264.

Studio previously handled a similarly arty litpic, “Adaptation,” which it bowed in limited release in 2002. But Sony sees “Stranger” as having broader appeal.

“This film is far more accessible to a wider audience,” Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer said. “It’s still smart and fresh, but in every screening, audiences have embraced the film.”

MGM rolls out the gritty cop drama “Harsh Times” in 956 precincts. Pic played Sundance this year.

Limited-release sector, rife with fall awards hopefuls already, gets even more crowded this frame with platform bows of MGM’s “Copying Beethoven,” Roadside Attractions’ “Come Early Morning,” Picturehouse’s “Fur” and ThinkFilm’s “F*ck” all joining the specialty scene.

Also overseas, Fox’s long-running hit “The Devil Wears Prada” will continue to draw well. As of Wednesday, international grosses had surpassed $154 million, and the worldwide total was nearing $280 million.

Fox is going day-and-date with “A Good Year” in Germany, Russia, Taiwan and Turkey. Russell Crowe drama has performed mildly in the U.K. but took second in Spain last weekend with $1.2 million.

Sony is expanding “Open Season,” which already has $54.5 million overseas and $136 million worldwide, into Germany, Spain and Scandinavia. UIP’s making a major push this weekend for sci-fi thriller “Children of Men,” launching in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. “Men,” which won’t open Stateside until Christmas, has cumed $18 million in 10 markets, with half of that in the U.K.

Other launches include “Babel” in Mexico, “The Departed” in Brazil and Denmark, “Flags of Our Fathers” in Greece and Italy, “The Prestige” in the U.K. and “You, Me and Dupree” in France and Italy. “Dupree” has topped $48 million overseas for UIP and $123 million worldwide.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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