Will “Borat” speak to overseas auds?
The Fox laffer starring the faux Kazakh reporter bowed Stateside Nov. 3, but unlike many American comedies, the film’s comedic culture clashes just might translate abroad.
In non-English-speaking markets, star Sacha Baron Cohen faces the same cultural roadblocks encountered by Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell: Neither of those Stateside stars have had a pic top $100 million overseas. So “Borat” will test the theory that comedies don’t travel well without superstars, such as those in “Bruce Almighty,” “Hitch” and “Meet the Fockers.”
Fox went day-and-date with the U.S. release in Belgium, Germany Holland, Scandinavia, Switzerland and the U.K.
Biggest penetration will be in Britain, where Cohen originated Borat in “Da Ali G Show,” with 450-500 playdates — only 300 fewer than the North America launch.
“He’s very popular in Northern Europe and we’re expecting pretty big results in the U.K.,” says Craig Dehmel, Fox Intl. VP for sales and strategy.
Europeans appear to have fewer qualms over the Kazakh character making a fool of himself via comic stumbles into racism. In Sweden, for example, “Borat” has been cleared for viewing by all ages.
Fox will launch “Borat” in France on Nov. 15 and a week later in Australia, with Cohen tubthumping the pic there. Latin America (a territory dominated by family auds) and Asia will wait until early next year to take advantage of hoped-for strong runs elsewhere.
Dehmel says the pic’s first preview drew an especially enthusiastic response in late June among international exhibs at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam.
“The notion of an immigrant not being understood is something that people in every country can relate to,” he says.