World’s laughing at ‘Borat’

Cohen's laffer scores 2nd victory on foreign front

“Borat” may be hated in his fictional Kazakhstan homeland, but there’s plenty of box office love everywhere else.

Mirroring its solid domestic performance, Sacha Baron Cohen’s offbeat spoof scored its second straight victory on the foreign front with an impressive $15 million at 1,135 playdates in 20 markets. That lifted Fox’s offshore “Borat” cume to $42.8 million and the pic’s worldwide take to $110.6 million.

Most of the coin came from socko holdovers in the U.K. and Germany. Brit biz slid just 18% in its soph sesh to $8.3 million at 429, pushing the Blighty cume to $26.6 million, ahead of such successes as the “Austin Powers” pics at the same point.

German second-frame grosses jumped 18% to $3.1 million at 313 with 78 added engagements as 11-day cume hit $6.7 million. Soph-sesh grosses also rose 16% in Switzerland to $483,000 at 27 and 8% in Austria with $292,000 at 37, while Swedish biz edged down 8% to 656,000 at 47.

“Borat” turned in respectable numbers in its Greek launch with $287,000 at 17. It also opened in Bulgaria with $51,000 at 10 and in Serbia with $29,000 at four.

“Borat” is likely to lose first place to James Bond next weekend as Sony opens “Casino Royale” day-and-date in many overseas markets, but the comedy’s likely to remain a significant draw with launches in France, Spain, Norway and South Africa.

No other film topped $10 million; Sony’s expansion of “Open Season” came the closest with $8.8 million at 4,665 in 50 markets. Top perfs for the toon came from its second-place Spanish launch with $1.8 million at 405 and its third-place German bow with $1.6 million at 750.

Fox’s other hit comedy, “The Devil Wears Prada,” saw continued strong holdovers to stay solid with $7.5 million at 3,500 in 45 markets. “Prada,” which opens next weekend in Japan, has hit $163 million overseas and $288 million worldwide.

The two Fox comedies have led the foreign box office for the last six weekends, keeping overall international biz for Hollywood majors — measured by receipts for BVI Fox, Sony, UIP and Warner Bros. — on track to finish 2006 well ahead of last year and likely to eclipse the 2004 record of $8.5 billion. “Casino Royale” also is expected to goose international biz, given the strong perf of the most recent Bond pic, “Die Another Day,” which took in $271 million overseas.

Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” continued to pull in respectable biz overseas with $7.1 million at 2,153 prints in 37 markets. Offshore cume has hit $58.7 million and worldwide gross is near $168 million.

“Saw III” is still scaring up notable biz with $7 million, led by BVI’s strong Spanish launch with $3.1 million at 300, 230% better than “Saw 2.” The horror sequel took in $1.8 million in its third Brit frame, down 36%; $1.2 million in its Australian soph sesh, off 54%; and $660,000 at 202 in Brazil, off 36% in its second frame.

“Saw III” has cumed about $26 million offshore and $96 million worldwide. It opens next weekend in Mexico, often a receptive market for horror pics.

As with the pic’s domestic launch, Fox’s expansion of Russell Crowe starrer “A Good Year” generated only moderate takings with $4.9 million at 1,600. Its German opening finished fourth with $1.5 million at 351, while the Australian launch came in third with $983,000 at 287.

Warner Bros. reported continued strong Japanese response to “Death Note: The Last Name” with a first-place $4.7 million at 346, off 27% from its launch frame. The sequel has cumed $19.4 million in Japan.

Warner also saw “The Prestige” conjure up decent takings with $4.2 million at 972, lifting foreign cume to $11.5 million. UIP’s German comedy sequel “Seven Dwarfs 2” remained solid in local markets with $3.7 million at 918; it tied for first in Germany with “Borat” at $3.1 million at 757.

Warner continued to see moderate biz for awards season contender “Flags of Our Fathers” with $2.7 million at 1,353 in 11 markets, lifting the cume to $13.5 million. UIP’s first-place Mexican launch of “Babel” generated $1.65 million at 292, 61% ahead of “21 Grams,” the previous pic from helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

UIP’s “Jackass Number Two” led in its Australian launch with $1.8 million at 187 and in its soph sesh in New Zealand with $150,000.

UIP reported half a dozen other pics over $1 million — “Children of Men” with $1.9 million at 715 in 19 markets; “Flushed Away” with $1.8 million at 492 in six markets; “World Trade Center” with $1.6 million at 1,355 in 58 territories; “Barnyard” with $1.6 million at 1,576; “You, Me and Dupree” with $1.5 million at 525; and “Step Up” with $1.5 million at 476.

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