The crazy funny film “Borat” (reviewed by me here, and mentioned when it was screen at TIFF in Sept) has, against all odds, opened as the #1 film in North America despite opened only in 837 theaters (compare to “Santa Clause 3” in 3,458 theaters).
As the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes said it best,
Borat took in [K: emphasis mine] “an estimated $26.4M in its first weekend beating out all competitors. Playing in only 837 theaters [K: this is nothing compare to its competitors], the R-rated road trip pic averaged a jaw-dropping $31,511 per theater with sell outs from coast to coast. Based on the character created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat was expected to open with strength in the top five, but was never seen as being powerful enough to reach the number one spot.”
Here is an insightful excerpt from LA Times [K: emphasis mine],
“The R-rated movie, whose full title is “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” averaged $31,511 per theater.
So-called tracking surveys had pointed to an opening in the $15-million range. But they failed to capture the intensity of the “Borat” phenomenon stoked by enthusiastic screening audiences and a carefully scripted publicity campaign that started in the spring, Roach said.
“It’s amazing that tracking is so important to the industry when it’s frequently way off,” Roach said.
“The ‘Borat’ virus has been out there spreading, but not among the people who answer the surveys,” he added.”