Box Office Guru Preview: Cage Offers One Night in Bangkok

No other films to open in wide release this weekend.

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Multiplexes will be filled this weekend...with tumbleweeds. The frame after the Labor Day holiday is often the worst-performing session of the whole year at the box office and this one looks to live up to history. Only one new release heads into national release - the Nicolas Cage-led action film Bangkok Dangerous. Overall the chart will look awfully familiar and breaking the $50M mark will be no easy task for the top ten films.

Nicolas Cage plays a hit man on assignment in Thailand in the new action thriller Bangkok Dangerous. The R-rated film is directed by Danny and Oxide Pang who after finding success in Asia with The Eye films have been recruited by Hollywood. An American remake of their own 2000 Thai film, Bangkok is the second effort by the twin brothers here after last year's horror hit The Messengers which bowed at number one to $14.7M. Cage has headlined more action films over the last dozen years than almost any other actor. Many have been hugely successful Jerry Bruckheimer productions, but he's also had his share of clunkers released in the August-September graveyard like The Wicker Man ($9.6M) and Lord of War ($9.4M). Late April, the corresponding death zone before the summer movie season starts, is where his recent flop Next debuted last year with only $7.1M.

As is often the case with films opening on the weekend after Labor Day, there is not much of a push behind Dangerous. The fact that it is the only new wide release will help it a little, but its adult male audience will be distracted by the kickoff of the NFL season and the continuation of college football. The lack of notable co-stars means it's Nic's to make or break and there's just so much demand out there for yet another flick with Cage jumping around shooting people. Debuting in about 2,500 locations, Bangkok Dangerous might debut with about $9M.


Nic Cage in Bangkok Dangerous

Two ethnic indie comedies debut in limited release this weekend. Taking the wider route is Roadside Attractions with the romantic comedy Everybody Wants to be Italian. The R-rated pic bows in 96 locations in major markets. IFC Films slams its way into nine theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Friday with the sports comedy Ping Pong Playa. The PG-13 pic tells of a streetwise Chinese-American man with hoop dreams who follows a path to his family's world of table tennis.


Ping Pong Playa

Holdover pictures will fall off from their holiday grosses from last weekend, but for some the drops may not be too high given how little will be spent on debuting titles. Three-time champ Tropic Thunder could see its Friday-to-Sunday take decline by 40% to about $7M giving Paramount and DreamWorks $96M to date. Warner Bros. may witness a 30% dip for The Dark Knight in its eighth frame. Still a popular draw, the superhero juggernaut would then bank roughly $6M pushing the incredible cume to $512M.

As one of the only comedies out there for teens now back in school, The House Bunny might hold up well dropping 40% to $5M for a $36M total for Sony. But Vin Diesel's actioner Babylon A.D. should tumble and could fall by 55% to around $4M giving Fox just $17.5M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: The first weekend of September was ruled by a Western as the Russell Crowe-Christian Bale pic 3:10 to Yuma opened at number one with $14M and a solid $5,292 average for Lionsgate. The remake went on to gross $53.6M and earn a pair of Oscar nominations. Another redo, Rob Zombie's version of Halloween, dropped to second with a steep 64% fall collecting $9.5M followed by Superbad in third with $7.6M. The New Line actioner Shoot 'Em Up bowed in fourth with a weak $5.7M on its way to $12.8M. The Bourne Ultimatum rounded out the top five with $5.7M in its sixth outing.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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