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If Sacha Baron Cohen knew his latest film, The Brothers Grimsby, was in trouble, he certainly didn’t let on in the weeks leading up to the film’s release.
The famous and indefatigable British prankster showed up at the Oscars as his signature character, Ali G, to riff on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and held a friends and family screening with Kim Kardashian, a clip of which she promptly posted on Instagram.
Among his numerous other publicity efforts, Cohen also handcuffed Matt Lauer when appearing on the Today show and, most recently, showed up at Funny or Die’s offices in New York City, where he stepped out on the balcony and used a megaphone to answer questions from the public.
The stunts were all designed to create a viral firestorm and heighten interest in the Sony movie, but it didn’t work. Brothers Grimsby bombed spectacularly over the weekend, opening to $3.2 million, by far the worst showing of Cohen’s career.
Overseas, Brothers Grimsby is also in dire trouble, including in Cohen’s home country, the U.K., where it opened two weeks ago and has amassed a disappointing $6.1 million to date. This weekend, it took in only $3.2 million internationally as it expanded into a total of 34 markets for an early foreign total of $11.2 million and global cume of $14.4 million.
“Sacha worked really hard, and the marketing department worked really hard. We think we have a really funny movie but for whatever reason, it didn’t convert,” said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer, whose studio endured more misses than not in the last year. Sony hopes to see its fortunes turn around with upcoming titles including Miracles From Heaven, The Angry Birds Movie, Ghostbusters and Inferno.
In 2006, Borat surprised Hollywood with a $26.5 million opening on its way to clearing $261.6 million worldwide. Three years later, Bruno debuted to a stellar $30.6 million domestically, but topped out at $138.5 million globally. Cohen’s last comedy, The Dictator, opened to $17.4 million in 2012 and earned $179.4 million worldwide.
Cohen has appeared in supporting roles in other films, including Les Miserables and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.
“I personally think he’s hilarious, but maybe it’s time for him to reach out. I’m not saying he needs to join Adam Sandler’s posse at Netflix, but I’m sure there is some top-flight talent that would love to collaborate with him,” said Bock. “And rule No. 1 — never, ever make a movie with soccer as part of the plot. It’s like trying to sell MLS tickets to Premier League fans.”
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