Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno pedaled a phallus-adorned bicycle straight to the top of the box office this weekend, earning an estimated $30.4 million in 2,756 theaters — not bad for an R-rated, 2-D, gay-themed non-sequel featuring not a single racist Transformer! Even so, while it was good enough to beat Borat's $26.5 million opening in 2007, that movie debuted in just 837 theaters and went on to make $28.3 million in its second weekend after it expanded to more. Also, Brüno's 39 percent Friday-to-Saturday drop ("one of the steepest on record," notes Box Office Mojo) probably doesn't bode well for the weekends to come.
Another metric by which Brüno will probably short of Borat: litigation. Despite the movie's merciless pranking of so many innocent-seeming, reasonable-acting non-public figures, Brüno has thus far yielded just one measly court filing — which is already totally evaporating! Last month, a California woman sued Baron Cohen for assaulting her at a 2007 bingo tournament and causing the emotional distress that later, somehow, made her fall, hit her head, and require a wheelchair (adding insult to injury, her scene was cut from the movie). Over the weekend, following a review of a videotape of the bingo incident provided by filmmakers, Richelle Olson and her lawyer withdrew the assault-and-battery charges from her original complaint.
So, if it's any comfort to Universal, it seems highly unlikely they'll need to spend very much of Brüno's still-pretty-good first-weekend take fighting slam-dunk lawsuits.
Weekend Report: ‘Bruno’ Not as Brawny as ‘Borat’ [Box Office Mojo]
'Bruno' bingo victim drops assault and battery claims [THR, Esq./HR]