Etiquette coaches, religious leaders, frat boys and Pam Anderson can breathe a sigh of relief. The air was let out of Borat's tires before the Kazakh journalist even had the chance to plan another road trip.
Although the big cheese himself, Rupert Murdoch, was the one who told a bevy of reporters Thursday that Sacha Baron Cohen had signed up for a Borat sequel, it turns out the Australian-born multimedia magnate spoke too soon.
Murdoch "was under the mistaken impression that we had signed a deal," a source close to Borat creator Cohen told Variety.
To his credit, perhaps the News Corp. chairman, who said that he's seen the film three times and "laughed like hell," was simply following the money. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan cost $18 million to make and has grossed $248 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo. The culture-clash comedy also scored Cohen a Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy and its screenplay has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Considering 20th Century Fox had already passed on the rights to a movie based on Cohen's gay fashion reporter alter ego, Brüno, the British actor's response to Murdoch's news probably rivaled Borat's when the boorish reporter learned that you can't drink alcohol while driving a car in the U.S.: "Whaaat?"
Universal picked up the Brüno project instead, for a reported $42 million.
"We're eager to work with Sacha again, and we've had casual discussions about a sequel, which we'd love to do, but at this point, it remains too preliminary to discuss," 20th Century Fox spokesman Chris Petrikin said.
The idea of another Borat film already seemed farfetched, considering the fact that it would be mighty hard for Cohen to find enough people who don't recognize him to populate a sequel. His character's onscreen exploits, in addition to landing the movie on myriad top 10 lists, have also received a tremendous amount of publicity and become grist for the lawsuit mill.
Aside from being banned in Russia and protested in Kazakhstan, Cohen and Fox have also been sued by a South Carolina man who claims he was accosted by Borat in a restaurant bathroom (the footage didn't make it into the finished film but was circulated on the Internet and is slated for the DVD, due out Mar. 6); two of the college students who give Borat a ride in the film and comment that "minorities have all the power" in this country; and the Romanian village that stood in for Borat's Kazakhstan hometown during the film's opening and closing sequences, whose residents claim that they were humiliated by being portrayed as bumpkins and criminals.
Additionally, an etiquette teacher who hosted a dinner party during which Borat handed her a bag of feces, not knowing it was supposed to be flushed, has also requested that the California attorney general open an investigation into the methods Borat's producers used to get people on camera.
In December, a Los Angeles judge refused to order that the scene featuring the drunken college boys be cut from the DVD release and all future theatrical showings.
Up next for Cohen, who previously made American audiences guffaw as a French Formula One driver in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, is Tim Burton's adaptation of Sweeney Todd, starring Johnny Depp as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Shooting is underway in London.
When Universal bought Brüno, it was reported that filming would start this summer for a 2008 release.