Borat’s Big Opening

by Nathan Hamm on 11/6/2006 · 1 comment

Originally worried about how Borat would do in its opening weekend, Fox scaled back the first weekend to about 800 screens across the US and Canada. Turns out their fears were for naught. Borat came in number one in the weekend box office, beating out the 3,400+ screen opening of The Santa Clause 3 and taking in $31,511 per screen for a total haul of over $26 million. The projected opening was about $15 million.

That not-so-shabby opening is a record for a sub-1,000 screen opening. The previous record holder was Fahrenheit 9/11.

“It was like a rock concert atmosphere — pandemonium,” said “Borat” producer Jay Roach, who attended three sold-out shows in Hollywood and West L.A. on Friday night.

“During the naked wrestling scene, people were thrashing around and laughing so hard they couldn’t breathe,” he said.

It was pretty much like that at the showing I caught over the weekend. I missed a few of the jokes due to loud laughter and clapping. (When did people start clapping for jokes?)

As for a review, I concur that the movie is “review-proof.” You will either like it or you won’t. And you probably already know which side you fall on.

More on Borat at neweurasia Kazakhstan and neweurasia Armenia.

The New York Times Magazine did a photo shoot with Borat, as well.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Ataman Rakin November 13, 2006 at 7:24 am

OK I went to watch it last week-end, here are my 2 eurocents…

My overall impression is, that the movie is a as much a parody on the United States as it is on something presented as ‘Kazakhstan’. When you see who Borat meets during his US endeavour — agressive, bitter big city folks; silicone bimbos; evangelical wackos and right-wing rodeo types; and the decabrats who give Bora a ride in their mobilhome – it does not particularily paint a rosey picture of the US really even if a lot of it is as cliché as the rest. This said, the most hilarious scenes for me where those in the Jewish-run b&b in Nevada (?) and the Texas rodeo where the horse of the cowgirl holding the stars ’n stripes collapses in the background :))))) .

As most of us know, physically, Borat, his home village and the caricatures, as well as the landscape where it is situated, bear no ressemblance to Kazakhstan even if part of the mess shown can be found in parts of Kazakhstan and other former Soviet (and Yugoslav) republics for that matter. They probably filmed that somewhere in a Gypsy settlement in Slovakia. Many of the clichés and caricatures are outright grotesque and puberal, and if they had ever made this film about Iran, Moqtada al Sadr or even Kosovo instead of Kazakhstan, the makers would likely have been in serious trouble by now.

Perhaps they had better taken a fictious country pretty much like the makers of the hilarious ‘travel guide’ on Molvania in the Jetlagtarvelseries did.

On the other hand, some of the types do make sense as far as reality in Kazakhstan goes. I am more specifically referring to Borat’s neighbour Nursultan Tuyakbai, who always want to have and do what his better-off neighbor has and does. In my opinion, this is quite typical for the mindset of the Kazakhstani elite and newly rich. Kazkahstan is a society which is traumatised and frustrated by the impoverishment and general loss of status that came in the wake of the Soviet collapse in the nineties.

Now that the oil and gas dollars come in — at least in certain centres and among some coats of society — they try to compensate that by indeed quite doing what Borat’s neighbour does: conspious consumption, imitate Western and Russian ‘nouveau riche’ lifestyles; plump grandiose buildings and façades everywhere; bold rethoric etc… – but that’s certainly not st. unique to Kazakshtan. It does explains the constipated reactions from the Kazkah estbalishment though: the Borat thing falling from the sky at a time that they are trying to be taken seriously internationally.

It’s a good thing that they kept it relatively short. IMO, the agrument that at least it made people aware of Kazakhstan doesnt fly. First, Borat is a hype and as every hype it will fade away soon and people will forget about it. Second, aware of whàt and how aware? For the Western masses, Kazakhstan now is, and will remain, a caricature, something grotesque.

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