Sacha Baron Cohen'soutrageous faux Kazakh journalist Borat had too much chutzpah for the competition at the weekend and opened topthrough Fox on an estimated $26.4m.
The result is remarkablegiven that Fox only launched the picture on 837 screens for a stunning $31,511average. Larry Charles directed.
Borat's domestic resultovershadowed Buena Vista's comedy sequel The Santa Clause 3: The EscapeClause, which opened in second placeon $20m on a far wider 3,458 screens.
Paramount's animated featureFlushed Away opened in thirdplace on a better-than-expected $19.1m. It features the vocal talents of HughJackman, Kate Winslet, and Ian McKellen.
Lionsgate's Saw III ranks fourth after 10 days, adding $15.5m for $60.1m,while The Departed crossed $100min its fifth weekend after adding $8m for $102.3m.
The crime drama will becomeMartin Scorsese's biggest domestic hit on Monday when it overtakes TheAviator's $102.6m.
Next weekend's wide releasesare: Focus Features' supernatural thriller The Return starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; Fox's comedy AGood Year starring Russell Crowe andAlbert Finney; MGM's crime drama Harsh Times starring Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez; andSony's comedy Stranger Than Fiction,which stars Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson.
Estimated Top Ten NorthAmerica Nov 3-5, 2006
Film(Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (-) Borat (Fox) Fox Int'l $26.4m -
2 (-) The Santa Clause 3:The Escape Clause (Buena Vista) BVI$20m -
3 (-) Flushed Away (Paramount) UIP $19.1m -
4 (1) Saw III (Lionsgate) Lionsgate $15.5m $60.1m
5 (2) The Departed (Warner Bros) WBPI/Initial $8m $102.3m
6 (3) The Prestige (Buena Vista) WBPI $7.8m $39.4m
7 (4) Flags Of OurFathers (Paramount) WBPI $4.5m $26.6m
8 (7) Man Of The Year (Universal) Morgan Creek $3.8m $34m
9 (5) Open Season (Sony) SPRI $3.1m $81.4m
10 (14) The Queen (Miramax) Pathe $3m $10.1m