This weekend sees the return of school, homework, the NFL...and box office lethargy! Yep, the slow season soldiers on at the multiplex: While studios spent the past few frames dumping their summer leftovers into theaters, this time around they're all basically taking the weekend off. Releasing nothing. Nada. Well, with one exception the Nicolas Cage Asian-action remake Bangkok Dangerous. Think it'll win? See what I have to say below, and then take your own shot in EW.com's all-new Fall Box Office Challenge. And props to ''neilplinden'' for garnering top prize in our just-finished summer game. Way to go, fellow box office savant!
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Lionsgate · R · 2,650 theaters · NEW
Heh-heh, Bangkok. It's easy to imagine Beavis and Butt-head racing to see this movie, but anybody else? Maybe not a ton of folks, since buzz and marketing are minimal, but certainly enough. That it's the only new release virtually guarantees a No. 1 finish for this violent remake of the 1999 assassin flick of the same title (also directed by Hong Kong's Pang brothers, who made The Eye). So, too, does the presence of box office force Nicolas Cage, whose most recent movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, grossed a whopping $220 mil domestically. Sure, the Oscar-winning actor has added a few misses to his résumé recently: Next opened with just $7.1 mil in 2007 and The Wicker Man bowed with $9.6 mil in early September two years ago. Then again, $9.6 mil may be enough to win here.
Weekend prediction: $10 million
Paramount/DreamWorks · R · 3,446 theaters · 4th weekend
Of course, for all I know, Bangkok Dangerous could tank and then this would wind up the winner for a fourth straight weekend. But at about $89 mil and counting, it'll probably have to wait till next week to cross the $100 mil mark.
Weekend prediction: $8 million
The Dark Knight
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 2,575 theaters · 8th weekend
Now that the $500 mil plateau has come and gone, is there any chance any chance at all that Batman could threaten Titanic's reign as the top domestic grosser of all time? As EW columnist Mark Harris recently wrote, no way. To match Titanic's $600.8 mil tally, The Dark Knight (which now stands at about $507 mil) would have to average approximately $8 mil per week...for the next three months! Yeah, no way. Still, with about $925 mil in worldwide receipts, it should soon join Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the only billion-dollar grossers in box office history.
Weekend prediction: $6 million
The House Bunny
Columbia · PG-13 · 2,736 theaters · 3rd weekend
The Anna Faris comedy is turning into a sweet little late-summer hit, having exceeded its small production budget (a reported $25 mil) with more than $30 mil in the bank. I wonder if E will try to take the credit?
Weekend prediction: $5 million
Fox · PG-13 · 3,425 theaters · 2nd weekend
Sorry to be so cynical, but let's be honest: The only reason I'm still writing about Vin Diesel's latest flick which had a disappointing $9.5 mil three-day debut a week ago and could drop 60 percent or more this time is because there are no other new releases to bump it further down the chart.
Weekend prediction: $4 million