The Friday numbers are in and -- to no one's surprise -- "Borat" was the number one movie, grossing $9.4 million, per The Numbers. Since they tripled the number of screens and only increased the Friday box office by about $1 million, I'd say the massive expansion was a waste of money. They could have gone to 1200 or maybe 1500 screens and grossed just as much. "Stranger Than Fiction" opened in fourth place, the first time in a while that's happened to one of his films. The horror flick "The Return" couldn't even gross-out "Saw III," while "Babel" expanded weakly (goodbye, Oscar talk) and Russell Crowe proved he's no draw in a weak romantic comedy -- "A Good Year" barely made the Top 10. Now go and make a sequel to "Master and Commander," Mr. Crowe.
UPDATE: And here are the weekend estimates based on Friday, per Box Office Prophets.
UPDATE 2.0: Hollywood Reporter says that "Stranger Than Fiction," "The Return" and "A Good Year" "all seemed to be negatively affected by the box office behemoth that is 'Borat.'" Are they kidding? "Fiction" had a modest, but not disastrous opening that targets an entirely different audience (the adult, more art house crowd). "The Return" is a horror flick that couldn't even top "Saw III" and Russell Crowe's romantic comedy barely hit the Top Ten. Do they really think "A Good Year" would have done significantly better if "Borat" didn't exist? "Borat" didn't steal audiences away from "Year" or "The Return." Those movies were soundly rejected by moviegoers. They are flops, pure and simple, and flops don't succeed in any situation. "Fiction" did okay and may yet build word of mouth (but I doubt it). And what about "Babel?" Do they think "Babel's" foolish expansion to 1200 screens was hurt by "Borat" too? Of course not. "Babel" was never going to be a successful wide release film. It's an art house flick in which at least five languages are spoken. And in none of them does it say "hit."