On any other weekend of the year, the estimated $7.8 million debut for Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous would have been nothing more than a huge disappointment. During this super-slow frame, however, it was good enough for a win.
Now, I suppose a movie should be commended for taking top prize; after all, Bangkok Dangerous is Lionsgate’s second No. 1 finisher of 2008, following Forbidden Kingdom. But let’s get real. The violent action remake was the only new wide release to hit theaters last Friday. It was the lowest-grossing weekend winner in a whopping five years, since Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star opened with $6.7 mil in 2003. For Nicolas Cage, that $7.8 mil figure barely beats the $7.1 mil that his last box office bomb, Next, debuted with a year and a half ago. And the movie’s deadly C- CinemaScore review from a crowd that was heavily skewed toward older folks effectively kills its chances of hanging on to earn big bucks in the long run.
Topping it all off, when the weekend’s final figures come in on Monday, Bangkok Dangerous may not even hold on to the top spot. That’s because three-time champ Tropic Thunder (No. 2) was just a few steps back at $7.5 mil, and the $300,000 gap between them could easily narrow in the next 24 hours.
Anyway, moving on down the chart, The House Bunny hung tough at No. 3 with $5.9 mil; the Anna Faris comedy has grossed a nice $37 mil in three weeks. The Dark Knight (No. 4) was next with $5.7 mil, bringing its eight-week sum to $512.2 mil. And Don Cheadle’s thriller Traitor rounded out the top five with a $4.7 mil haul.
Overall, as I hinted earlier, this weekend was down nearly 17 percent from a year ago, when 3:10 to Yuma was the big new movie, and it was 2008’s slowest by far. In fact, it’s the worst weekend in quite a while: The total gross of all films in theaters this frame was about $66 mil, the lowest cumulative sum since that Dickie Roberts weekend five years ago. How bad is that? Consider: Three individual movies (The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Iron Man) banked more than $66 mil in one weekend this year. Come to think of it, when The Dark Knight premiered in July, it earned more than $66 mil in one day. Ouch.