AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’“The requests came in for about 3,500 theaters,” said Bruce Snyder, Fox’s president of distribution. “But that is just too wide and will hurt our playability. I want to keep the auditoriums full and have it be like a rock concert.” The limited debut did result in many sellouts and endless lines outside theaters. “It helps generate buzz to see a movie in a packed house and not being able to get tickets due to sellout; it makes the movie seem like an event,” observed Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. “Borat” easily outgrossed two wide-release family movies that had been expected to duel for the top spot. Disney’s “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” (3,458 theaters) opened with a three-day take of $20 million while the new DreamWorks Animation title “Flushed Away” (3,707 theaters) bowed with a gross of $19.1 million. “When I saw we were going to do $10 million on Friday, my jaw dropped to my chest,” Snyder said. “(Theaters) did their job by shipping it into bigger auditoriums and adding screens to make that seat count grow.” Like with the summer release “Snakes on a Plane,” there was tremendous pre-release buzz about the movie. But “Snakes” had a disappointing opening weekend of $15.2 million and, due to lethal word of mouth, quickly disappeared from theaters. So there was no clear sense of how the pre-release buzz surrounding “Borat” would translate when it came to ticket sales. “`Borat’ proved not to be merely a media creation, there was actual demand to see this movie,” Gray said. “It avoided becoming the next `Snakes on a Plane.’ (Fox) now has the No. 1 movie and an added layer of success given how limited the release was. People are praising it for beating `Santa Clause 3′ and `Flushed Away’ even though it was in less than a quarter of the theaters.” [email protected] (818) 713-3758 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! When 20th Century Fox decided to pull back its Sacha Baron Cohen comedy “Borat” from wide release to just over 800 theaters for its opening weekend, some saw it as a lack of faith in the movie. But after a stunning three-day gross of $26.4 million, the phones at the studio were ringing off the hook Monday with movie exhibitors wanting to book the movie about a fictional Kazakh TV commentator. Fox had decided to reduce the original theater count last month. This was in order to generate positive buzz for a movie they felt would be better off being seen and talked about rather than opening with a more traditional marketing blitz. The strategy paid off but Fox brass is still reluctant to go too wide with the film next weekend when “Borat” will expand from 837 locations to just over 2,400 theaters.