Monday Morning Box Office: So Much For The Kazakh-Lash

Sneak a little bourbon into that first cup of coffee, have a couple of greedy swigs, and come to the weekend box office numbers with a healthy, Monday-kickstarting buzz on:

1. Borat—$26.375 million
So as it turns out, Fox's seemingly panicked pulling of Borat from about 1,200 theaters based on some sexy-time-dampening tracking data turned out to be the right move, one that induced crazed fans to jam the 837 locations where it was playing and emerge from the theater anxious to call their family members in the low-awareness wastelands the studio avoided this weekend, urging them to buy tickets to the first available showing of the Running of the Jews. There will undoubtedly be much rejoicing this morning at Fox, with executives dousing each other in champagne at their morning meetings, and exchanging boozy high-fives while exalting in their failure to screw up the release of the funniest movie of the year.

2. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause—$20 million
3. Flushed Away—$19.1 million
The race to finish second to the Borat phenomenon was almost too close to call, but both camps can spin their own kind of victory: Disney can lay claim to the Number One Family Movie in America, while Paramount/DreamWorks can exult in their status of having the Number One Animated Family Comedy Featuring Rodents Flushed Down a Toilet.

4. Saw III—$15.5 million
As expected, moviegoers lost most of their interest in seeing a splatter flick once they washed off their fake blood, but Saw III has already pulled in enough money to all but guarantee that we'll get the chance to enjoy a new sequel each Halloween weekend through the birth and grade-school educations of our children.

5. The Departed—$8 million
We're just happy that Open Season finally fell out of the top five, and we won't have to think about Ashton Kutcher's film career for a while.