The studio paid big bucks for the rights to ''Bruno''

By Michelle Kung
Updated November 03, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Universal is betting big on Sacha Baron Cohen. Having reportedly beat four rivals — including Borat distributor 20th Century Fox — the studio plunked down a whopping $42.5 million for the worldwide rights to the British comic’s currently untitled next film. (The price tag is said to include $20–25 million to make the movie and 15 percent of the profits for the creative team.) The surefire raunchfest — and we wouldn’t have it any other way — will likely center on Baron Cohen’s gay fashion reporter Brüno, the third and only remaining character from Da Ali G Show yet to hit the big screen (2002’s Ali G Indahouse went straight to DVD in the U.S.). The film, scheduled for a 2008 release, seems risky, given the industry-wide uncertainty over just how well the $15-20 million-budgeted Borat will do at the box office. But if the caliber of Universal’s competition is any indication — DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. were all reportedly in the running — the studio may have the last laugh.