Last weekend, "Bruno" opened up with a wave of buzz, only to have that buzz crash. The movie opened up with $30 million. That's a high opening for an R-rated comedy, and it's about $4 million more than "Borat" earned on its opening weekend. However, "Bruno" opened up on three times as many screens as "Borat" did. On its second weekend, "Bruno" lost a devastating 73% of its opening weekend take, bringing in a mere $8 million. The film's 10 day gross now stands at $49.5 million. While the film has already surpassed its $40 million budget, its unlikely to reach the $128 million final tally that "Borat" made. "Bruno" will be lucky if it is even able to reach $100 million.
Now that we've gotten all the numbers out of the way, lets talk philosophically. What was it that made "Bruno" fail. Or maybe not fail, but certainly score way lower than expectations. The reviews for the film have been mixed, and its rating on Rotten Tomatoes currently stands at a decent 69% (compared to "Borat"'s 91%). While "Borat" was a love it kind of film, "Bruno" seems to have mustered up a love-it-or-hate-it reaction.
But lets end the "Borat" connections. After all, one of the reasons that most people have felt disappointed in "Bruno" is that they believe it isn't up to par with Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat." But then again, what is up to par with "Borat." Few comedies made today can ever top the shocking, over-the-top genius that is "Borat." Also, "Borat" was something of a surprise with expectations much lower than those of "Bruno." Had "Bruno" come out before "Borat," it would have experienced the same level of success that "Borat" experienced. I hope all viewers of "Bruno" can forget about "Borat" and realize they are watching a totally different movie, with a totally different characters, and totally different laughs.
"Bruno" certainly hasn't carried the talk-ability that "Borat" had back in 2006. Its numerous lawsuits have gone almost completely unnoticed, despite being almost as entertaining as the lawsuits "Borat" faced. One lawsuit comes from the terrorist Bruno interviews, who claims to have reformed. We'll see about that.
But maybe the real reason people aren't seeing "Bruno": they don't think it's good. Maybe it's just too gross; replacing shock for laughs and political commentary. I beg to differ. Yes, "Bruno" was shocking beyond belief at times, but often the humor lies in the overall ridiculousness of the character. And while "Bruno" might not expose as much ignorance as "Borat," it still exposes a lot. Sometimes, that ignorance is more subtle. For example, as Bruno tries to learn how to defend himself from a gay man, he learns it is best to attack and even break a few of his bones if possible. If that's not ignorance, than I don't know what is.
"Bruno" is also timely and very political. In fact, 2009 is the perfect year for a film like "Bruno" which blows the lid off on a decades long culture war. The debate about "Bruno" should not be whether or not the film is homophobic, it should be what this film is saying about the debate over essential human rights in America. Anything that may seem homophobic in the film is in fact ironic. But then again, the definition of irony seems to have disappeared from the mind of the modern movie goer.
However, "Bruno"'s failure might be short lived. Is it possible the film could return in the years to come as a DVD success and something of a midnight-movie cult classic? Upon there release, such cult classics as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Blade Runner," "Donnie Darko," and "The Big Lebowski" might've been considered too weird, too shocking, or too good upon their initial release. Perhaps the world just wasn't quite ready for "Bruno" yet. Ten years down the road, well, that might be a different story.