"Bruno" fashions top spot at U.S. box office

Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:13pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Bruno," British satirist Sacha Baron Cohen's latest subversive outing, narrowly claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office in North America, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

The "mockumentary," in which Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion model seeking fame in the United States, sold $30.4 million worth of tickets during the three days beginning July 10, distributor Universal Pictures said.

But the film lost 39 percent of its audience from Friday to Saturday, a hefty drop given that movies usually see an uptick in that period.

Rival studios pounced on the slide, forecasting "Bruno" would have a short run in theaters. But Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said such a dip "was not unusual in summer."

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" held steady at No. 2 with $28.5 million, taking the 12-day haul for 20th Century Fox's prehistoric cartoon to $120.6 million. The film was the top draw internationally over the weekend, with $98 million from 102 markets. Its total foreign haul stands at $327 million.

Last weekend's North American champion, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," slipped to No. 3 with $24.2 million. After 19 days, Paramount Pictures' robot sequel has earned $339.2 million in North America, easily the biggest movie of the year. Its international haul rose to $364.5 million.

The one other new entry was Fox's teen romantic comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper," starring Hayden Panettiere in the title role. It came in at No. 7 with $5 million, in line with the studio's modest expectations.

The opening for "Bruno" was also in line with the forecasts of Universal Pictures, a General Electric Co unit, which paid independent producer Media Rights Capital $42.5 million for distribution rights in North America and eight foreign territories. Media Rights declined to disclose the budget.

Baron Cohen's previous release, the similarly outrageous "Borat," opened with $26.5 million in November 2006. But that was from about 800 theaters, while "Bruno" played in 2,756 theaters. "Borat" ended up with $128.5 million in North America and an additional $133 million internationally.   Continued...

<p>Sacha Baron Cohen as "Bruno" caught upside down on a wire during his entrance at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>