Cage's action flick faces smaller indie fare

Lionsgate kicks off the fall box office season with the bow of Nicolas Cage hit man actioner “Bangkok Dangerous,” the Pang brothers’ English-language remake of their 1999 Thai film.

Overall, however, the domestic box office should see a dramatic slowdown now that summer’s over.

There’s a bevy of indie films opening, although the fall crush of adult-driven films won’t get fully under way until next weekend with the bow of Focus Features’ “Burn After Reading,” from the Coen brothers.

Specialty pics opening today include Roadside Attractions’ comedy “Everybody Wants to Be Italian,” opening at 96 playdates; Anchor Bay’s Matthew McConaughey starrer “Surfer, Dude,” opening in Austin, Texas; and IFC’s drama “Ping Pong Playa” at nine locations.

The R-rated “Bangkok Dangerous,” which centers on a deaf hitman, should do modest business as it will have to compete with the start of the NFL season for male attention. Pic does have an advantage as the only new wide release of the weekend with 2,650 playdates. It is tracking best among men over 25.

Twins Danny and Oxide Pang, the Hong Kong filmmakers who became a brand name with hit franchise “The Eye,” also directed the English-language “The Messengers,” which debuted to $14.7 million on its way to grossing $35.4 million domestically.

“Bangkok” has a shot at winning the weekend crown. DreamWorks/ Paramount holdover “Tropic Thunder” has taken the No. 1 spot three weekends in a row. Laffer’s cume is nearing $90 million domestically.

There’s no shortage of male-skewing films in the marketplace, including 20th Century Fox’s “Babylon A.D.,” which debuted over Labor Day to $11.5 million. Pic’s cume through Wednesday was $12.7 million.

Overture’s adult-skewing political “Traitor,” starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce, heads into its second weekend with a cume of $12.5 million through Wednesday.

Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” also remains a crowd-pleaser among older moviegoers. Cume on the Weinstein Co. pic through Wednesday was $13.7 million as it heads into its fourth weekend.

On the foreign front, overall biz looks to be moderate, with “The Dark Knight” battling “The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” for the top spot.

“Knight,” which has topped $422 million in international box office, should continue to see strong holdover biz. The third “Mummy” will receive a boost from its launch in China, where the opening day generated $2 million at 1,158.

Universal’s “Mamma Mia!” will also be a player via launches in Portugal and South Korea. The tuner’s taken in a dazzling $263.5 million overseas in 33 markets, led by $108 million in the U.K.

Paramount’s “Kung Fu Panda” goes into its final market of Greece with an impressive $390 million banked overseas.

“Bangkok Dangerous” will go day-and-date in Russia. Other launches include “Hellboy 2″ in Brazil, “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D” in Spain, “Step Brothers” in Russia, “Tropic Thunder” in Argentina and New Zealand, “Wall-E” in Finland and Sweden, “Wanted” in Germany and “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” in Italy.

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