LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Nicolas Cage action-thriller “Bangkok Dangerous” needed just $7.8 million to take the top spot at the box office in what was the slowest movie weekend in five years, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

The total weekend box office gross was expected to reach just $66 million, slightly less than the $66.7 million reported for the same weekend in September 2003.

“Bangkok Dangerous,” a remake of a 1999 Asian movie that opened on 2,650 screens, performed within Lionsgate’s expectations, said Steve Rothenberg, the studio’s vice president of distribution.

Coming in second was “Tropic Thunder,” the DreamWorks-Paramount combat comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. It earned $7.5 million in its fourth week of release, good for No. 2 after three weeks in the box office top spot. Its cumulative total is $96.8 million.

In third place was Sony/Columbia’s frothy comedy “The House Bunny” with $5.9 million, giving it a cumulative total of $37 million after three weeks.

“It’s a very nice hit for us,” said Steve Elzer, senior vice president of media relations for Columbia Pictures.

Rounding out the top five films was “The Dark Knight,” in fourth place with $5.7 million, and Overture Films’ espionage drama “Traitor,” with $4.7 million.

The slowdown in ticket sales is typical for September, which falls between the big summer blockbuster season and the period when studios begin rolling out offerings primed for Academy Award consideration. It also comes at a time when the fall TV season is gearing up.

“The marketplace is definitely shifting gears,” Dergarabedian said. “The attention is shifting to the small screen.”

However, this weekend’s low figures also mark the seventh consecutive weekend that the box office gross has been sliding as compared to a year ago. Dergarabedian blamed that on the economy, the national political conventions and the severe weather in the Gulf states in recent weeks.

www.mediabynumbers.com

Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney’s parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.

AP-ES-09-07-08 1530EDT


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