NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has signed a deal to make “Borat 2,” a sequel to the hit film about a boorish Kazakh journalist on a road trip across America, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said on Thursday.
Murdoch, whose company owns the Hollywood studio behind the original film, 20th Century Fox, offered no details about the planned follow-up as he spoke to reporters at a media conference, other than to say the film’s star and creator was on board.
“He’s signed up to do a sequel for us,” Murdoch told attendees of the gathering sponsored by McGraw-Hill.
A spokesman for Cohen declined further comment.
Cohen’s faux documentary, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” was a surprise box-office sensation, grossing $248 million worldwide and earning an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
Cohen also won a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical for his playing Borat Sagdiyev, a cluelessly offensive Central Asian journalist with a thick moustache, rumpled grey suit, wild-eyed grin and boisterous catch phrases like “sexy time!”
The character is one of several oddball personas Cohen introduced to U.S. audiences on his HBO cable TV series “Da Ali G Show.”
Left unclear by Murdoch is whether a “Borat” sequel would — or even could — follow the same “mockumentary” premise as the first movie.
Chronicling Borat’s exploits on a cross-country U.S. road trip, the original film was driven by Cohen’s improvised, unrehearsed encounters with ordinary people who become his unsuspecting comic foils.
Cohen has said his film has drawn such worldwide notoriety that it might be difficult to pull off a similar feat in the near future.
Besides its commercial success, “Borat” sparked a fair amount of controversy. The film drew protests from Kazakh authorities outraged by Cohen’s portrait of their country as a backward nation of imbeciles. It also sparked lawsuits by some unwitting subjects, including two fraternity brothers shown guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks in the film.
Nonetheless, a 20th Century Fox rival — Universal Pictures which is controlled by General Electric Co . — reached a deal with Cohen in November for film rights to another of his alter egos, a gay Austrian fashionista named Bruno, for a reported $42.5 million. The Hollywood Reporter said at the time that Universal plans to start shooting the Bruno film this summer for a 2008 release.
Plans by Fox for a “Borat” sequel remain murky.
Asked whether he had seen “Borat,” Murdoch said, “Sure, about three times. ... We laughed like hell. We went out to dinner and laughed all over again.”