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After a pre-release publicity blitzkrieg that spanned many months and even more countries, Bruno seems to have crashed and burned. Hard.

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R.I.P. Bruno?

Such an enormous buildup... such a sudden and ignominious comedown. After a pre-release publicity blitzkrieg that spanned many months and even more countries, Bruno seems to have crashed and burned. Hard. After its robust premiere weekend, Bruno was on top of the box office charts with $30 million and change. After its second weekend, it was down 73 percent (that's the biggest drop of any film this year) and barely hanging on to 4th place.

It's no longer a stretch to think that the controversies surrounding the movie might outlast the film's stay in theatres. That's because while audiences seem to have moved on to Harry Potter, the "Bruno" buzz is still making waves out there in the real world.

The gay community hasn't made a definitive decision on whether or not Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego is ultimately homophobic or homophriendly. Even President Obama attended a screening and was then grilled by the press corps on what he thought. "Don't ask me that," stated the flustered Moviegoer-in-Chief. "Look, I'm committed to opening up the dialogue about this and, yes, changing my current policy, but now is not the time to address this."

The film has been banned outright in the Ukraine after the Culture Ministry there cited "vulgar vocabulary, homosexual scenes, sadistic and anti-social behavior that can damage public morale." Movieguide, a Christian group in the US, called on cities to ban screenings of the film during opening weekend. (Given the sharp drop in ticket sales, that might be the best thing that could happen to "Bruno" now, almost assuredly guaranteeing a bump in business.)

Sometimes a good old-fashioned lawsuit can help, as it did for "Borat." But this legal action only calls into question the veracity of what was seen on the screen. The "real" terrorist interviewed by "Bruno" in the film, the one at the center of the nerve-wracking story that Cohen told to David Letterman, may not be exactly as advertised. Ayman Abu Aita is reportedly livid about his appearance in the film and threatening to sue SBC over it. The "secret location" was really a popular restaurant, according to Aita. He says he does not have a bodyguard, as Cohen claimed. He was not armed, as Cohen suspected. And it turns out that he quit the notorious Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in 2003. So while SBC was certainly running a few risks in filming the scene, it may not have been the potentially-life-threatening situation we were led to believe.

And, in what may literally be the last nail in the figurative coffin, Sacha Baron Cohen himself has now stated that it may be time for him to kill off the character of Bruno forever. "It's wonderful that the films are successful," he told the UK's Daily Mail, "but every new person who sees the movie is one less person I can be Borat or Bruno with again. So finishing a movie is having to say goodbye. Admitting that you're never going to play a character is like saying goodbye to a loved one - and that's hard. When I create a character like Borat or Bruno, I learn to live them, stay in them for a really long time and in some ways, I do become them."

If that turns out to be the case, then Rest In Peace, "Bruno". Thanks for a wunderbar ride. And Mr. Cohen, we can't wait to see what you come up with next.

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