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This weekend, the entire (film) world is watching as 20th Century Fox releases Borat on 800 screens across America. Will it sink, or swim? The film has received a tidal wave of media and attention, but will that yield ticket sales? More than a few people have mentioned that this may be “more ado about nothing,” in light of the Snakes on a Plane misstep in August.

The one key difference between the two films, though, is that Snakes on a Plane got all its attention because everyone was sure it would be a bad film. Borat is getting all its press, because it’s a really good film. Borat is more akin to the highly successful Jackass films, except that the quality levels are much higher and smarter. How can Fox go wrong?

Anne Thompson is covering the release very well on her blog, citing that critics’ sites like “Rotten Tomatoes” are saturated in great reviews. On his blog, Tom Hall offers up a smart analysis of why the film is “one of the most politically charged and important comic documentaries to hit screens in a long, long time.” For The New Yorker, Anthony Lane shares his thoughts on the film, and why it works so well. But, the question remains, will it work for audiences too? At Variety, Ian Mohr echoes the anxiety of all fans of the film:

But the real B.O. intrigue lies with Fox’s “Borat,” the outrageous Sacha Baron Cohen comedy that Hollywood has termed everything from another “Snakes on a Plane” to a modern-day, left-field hit along the lines of “Blazing Saddles” or “There’s Something About Mary.”

After an initial raft of crackling Internet and Hollywood buzz for “Borat,” pic’s potential potency was so feared that distrib heads all over town said they weren’t going anywhere near it with competish that would angle for young males.

But when the film’s initially low tracking numbers hit — reflecting the fact that auds outside the MySpace sphere had little interest in the kamikaze Kazakh TV commentator — the debate became hit vs. hype.As a result, Fox ratcheted down the number of playdates to just 837. With so few screens, “Borat” has no chance of wining the frame.

However, it now seems that media reports of the pic’s possible overhyping has actually spiked awareness, as Cohen, in character all along, has also pumped the pic’s promotion.

Regardless, many of us will be eagerly checking Box Office Mojo throughout the weekend, to see if the rest of America cares about this brilliant, biting, and gut-busting film.

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