'Borat 2': Amazon Paid $80 Million For The Film After Theatrical Plans Were Scrapped

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was originally intended to be released in theaters by Universal — then the pandemic hit. Theatrical plans for Borat 2 had to be scrapped, and Amazon swooped in to release the film on its streaming platform, earning the company its biggest zeitgeist-capturing hit. But it turns out Amazon shelled out a lot to earn those headlines — the company reportedly paid a whopping $80 million for the rights of Borat 2.

Deadline reports that Sacha Baron Cohen was determined to release Borat Subsequent Moviefilm in theaters before the election, but with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still in full force and theatrical markets not completely open, Universal was understandably a little reluctant.

So the studio gave Baron Cohen the opportunity to shop the film around to several streamers, with Amazon ultimately winning out with a hefty $80 million payout. It's unclear which streamers were involved, but it's likely that Netflix and Apple were among the bidders. Deadline notes that different versions were shown to streamers, as Baron Cohen was shooting at the time amid the pandemic, adding to Borat 2's urgently timely quality.

Baron Cohen specifically wanted a streaming release as opposed to PVOD, to allow the widest possible audience to see it without paying an extra fee. So it went to Amazon, which paid $80 million for the rights to release Borat Subsequent Moviefilm straight to its Prime Video streaming platform on October 23, 2020 — a week and a half before Election Day.

And it's been a major success for Amazon — with the film's revealing scenes stirring up quite a bit of controversy and "tens of millions" of viewers on its opening weekend (at least, according to Amazon). There's no press like negative press, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has received plenty of that. A disturbing scene featuring former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani made waves online and in the press, while lawsuits and verbal attacks abound. The film received mostly positive reviews, with /Film's Ethan Anderton calling the film in his review an "audaciously and raucously hilarious follow-up is infinitely more shocking and damning than the first film. However, it's also surprisingly tender thanks to the presence of a new character: Borat's daughter Tutar."

The company has been shelling out for the promotional campaign for the movie as well, coordinating various stunts around the world, including giant Borat balloons floating down the Thames in London, the Hudson River in New York, Toronto's Harbourfront, and Praia do Arpoador in Rio. In Sydney, Bondi Beach was transformed into "Borat Beach" populated by Borat lookalikes dressed in the character's "maskinis" shown in the promo ad.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, directed by Jason Woliner, is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.