Borat has taken over the world. Again.
For the second time, the fictional Kazakh journalist has emerged as the media’s most talked-about figure. The only competition Borat has for that title currently is the man behind his genius-level antics — Sacha Baron Cohen himself.
The filmmaker, personally, was having a good year anyway before “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was released earlier this year on Amazon Prime. He appeared in Aaron Sorkin’s Netflix ensemble courtroom drama, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” as influential hippie activist Abbie Hoffman.
Baron Cohen not only earned great reviews, but some of the best of his career. In fact, Insider called his performance the very best of his entire filmography. The filmmaker turned in a semi-serious performance as the activist, meshing his expectedly perfect comedic timing with a dramatic nuance. It’s the sort of role that is primed for the Oscars.
But with his new mockumentary, the sequel to 2006’s “Borat,” Baron Cohen sets his sights on something even larger than the Academy Awards: the US presidential election.
In a masterclass of movie marketing, Baron Cohen and his team essentially hijacked the political conversation at one of the most important moments in US history. Here’s how they did it.
The movie came as a complete surprise
In 2007, Baron Cohen said he had retired the character of Borat, so no one was expecting another appearance from the Kazakh character, let alone a movie sequel. The actor did make a couple of appearances as Borat, including one in 2018 to encourage people to vote in the midterm elections, but there was still no mention of a sequel.
So it came as a surprise when Borat was spotted filming last summer. This slyness allowed “Borat 2” to be announced with maximum impact, catching everyone by surprise and landing with aplomb.
“Borat 2” landed with even more power because it came with many other films were being delayed. “No Time to Die,” “Black Widow,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” “West Side Story,” “Dune” were all pushed until 2021.
But “Borat” arrived with no notice and no build-up — just excitement. It felt like a statement in itself: “Borat” is here when no one else is.
The film’s release date is a statement in itself
It’s typical for a movie or TV show to release in time for a major event like an election, and this year has been no different.
Several documentaries, including “Totally Under Control” and “American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself” have been released, while Aaron Sorkin has been involved in two big releases tied to this election: a “The West Wing” reunion special and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
So when “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was released on October 23 so close to the US elections, November 2, Baron Cohen was sending an obvious message for voters to pay attention.
Insider spoke to entertainment marketing expert Stacy Jones of Hollywood Branded, who said that “the timing certainly leverages major news cycles who are looking for new coverage angles. The film content and subject matter offer what many find as humorous content and provides easy new headline and late night talk show content to play off of.”