September 5, 2008 / 6:32 AM / in 9 years

"Bangkok Dangerous" kicks off fall movie season

<p>Actor Nicolas Cage greets fans during a promotional event for the film "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" in Tokyo December 6, 2007.Michael Caronna</p>

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The fall box-office season gets off to a rather sedate start this weekend, with just one film opening in wide release -- Lionsgate's "Bangkok Dangerous," starring Nicolas Cage and going out without advance screenings for the press.

A spokeswoman for Lionsgate said that as an action release, "Bangkok" was never going to be a critical darling. But the studio representative stressed that Lionsgate has high opening-weekend expectations for the film.

Tracking data appears to indicate a bow somewhere north of $10 million, which means that "Bangkok" should top the weekend's box-office rankings.

DreamWorks/Paramount's R-rated comedy "Tropic Thunder" turned in a three-peat performance atop the domestic box office last weekend with $14.6 million during the four-day holiday frame. But even a 15 percent drop from the $11.5 million that "Tropic" fetched last Friday through Sunday would give the leggy comedy a gross slightly less than $10 million this session and finally yield the weekend crown.

Focus Features' "Hamlet 2" also bears watching this weekend, not because it has a chance of topping the box office but to see if the well-reviewed comedy can salvage a decent theatrical run despite its wobbly expansion into wide release last weekend.

The Steve Coogan/Catherine Keener-starring film grossed just $2.1 million from 1,597 playdates for an inauspicious theater average of $1,331. But arguably, the holiday weekend's four films opening in wide release left little room to maneuver, so Focus will hope that "Hamlet" can find its sea legs this session.

TRUSTING IN 'TRAITOR'

The Overture thriller "The Traitor" turned in the best per-theater average last weekend, and fingers are crossed at the fledgling indie that its Don Cheadle-starring thriller -- Overture's first release of a self-produced film -- will build on that opening-weekend performance with a gutsy second session.

"Traitor" grossed $10 million from 2,054 theaters, or $4,872 per venue, last weekend.

The remake of a 1999 Thai film of the same name, "Bangkok" was helmed by the original movie's directors, Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang.

"We're expecting a solid opening, and we're well positioned to play through the entire month," Lionsgate distribution president Steve Rothenberg said.

Lionsgate dominated the fall box office in 2007, with its $209 million in autumn revenue and 16 percent market share topping the seasonal grosses of all of the major studios. This time, the mini-major enters the fall with its second release in a string of wide openers that Lionsgate will unspool over five consecutive weekends.

The first film in that spree of releases -- Labor Day-weekend debutante "Disaster Movie" -- opened weakly with $6.9 million during its first four days. Next up will be "Tyler Perry's the Family That Preys," set to unspool September 12.

Although the film is likely to appeal primarily to Perry's urban base of support, executives hope the casting of Kathy Bates in a key role might expand the multihyphenate draw.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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