Twitter makes Bruno bomb

By Joanna Hunkin

He came out with a hiss and an outrageously flamboyant roar, but Sacha Baron Cohen's latest incarnation, Bruno, has fallen strangely silent as the twitter of dissent has spread around the world.

Global reports suggest audiences have been less than impressed with the over-the-top comedy, which has seen takings fall heavily at the box office after a strong opening day.

In New Zealand, the film took $171,023 on its opening day and $788,477 during its opening weekend.

Those figures placed it third in box office rankings, behind Ice Age 3: Dawn of Dinosaurs and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

This week, the takings dropped by more than half, to $380,527, putting it in fourth place.

This week Time magazine called Bruno a one-day wonder and argued it could be the first movie defeated by the Twitter effect.

Fans appear to have taken to Twitter - the social networking site that allows users to share their thoughts in 140 characters or less - in droves, expressing their disappointment with the film.

And unlike traditional word of mouth, which is limited by geography and the number of people you know, Twitter is limitless.

Within minutes, Twitter users the world over could see the growing trend against Bruno. And with nearly 4 million users online, that is a huge number of potential moviegoers being turned off.

In the United States, Bruno opened to big numbers, earning US$14.4 million on the day, with studio executives predicting the opening weekend would top US$50 million.

But the next day, the takings dropped to US$8.8 million and the weekend total struggled to pass the $30 million mark.

The film's distributor here, Paramount Pictures New Zealand, said it never expected Bruno to top the local box office as the global release coincided with the school holidays.

Spokeswoman Aliese James said Paramount was happy with the film's performance and it was in keeping with expectations. The company had always expected Transformers to top the R16-rated comedy.

The film also faced off against Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last week, which broke box office records to claim the highest-grossing opening weekend of the year - and the second-highest opening weekend in New Zealand history.

Cohen's last movie, Borat, opened with slightly lower figures, taking $738,173 in its first weekend.

This week cinemas' takings were up more than $1.4 million on the same week last year.

Jane Hastings, SkyCity Cinemas general manager, said it was natural the R16 comedy had lower box office takings than its competitors, which could be seen by younger viewers.

"It is too soon to tell whether Kiwi audiences will react in the same way as their American counterparts."

- NZ Herald

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