Regardless of critical backlash, Beverly Hills Chihuahua was best in show with audiences, grossing $29 million and an October best for Disney. Meanwhile, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, a hit with hipsters and critics alike, opened at a decent $12 million but did not meet industry expectations, which were trending toward the high teens for the Michael Cera-Kat Denning romance.
Three other new wide releases — An American Carol, Blindness and Flash of Genius — had much harder times finding their audiences. All opened on more than 1,000 screens, but only the right-wing satire American Carol broke into the top ten. The left also made an impact at the box office this frame, contributing $3.5 million to the Bill Maher polemic Religulous, which opened in only 500 theaters.
The economy may be tanking, but the box office remains healthy, with probably the only year-on-year metric that’s seen an uptick. In fact, Chihuahua helped push the weekend box office up 37% over the same weekend last year, when Disney opened The Game Plan to a surprising $16.6 million.
Of the holdovers, Shia LaBeouf’s Eagle Eye continues to perform well, earning a number two slot with an additional $17.7 million, and grossing $54 million in ten days. And Richard Gere and Diane Lane are also holding steady, with their romantic flick Nights in Rodanthe grossing $7.3 million for a total cume of $25 million. Warner’s other wide release, the Ed Harris-directed Appaloosa, grossed a solid $5 million for a fifth spot on the chart, proving that America always comes out for a good Western.
And Oscar pics are starting to gain traction. Sony Pictures Classics bowed the buzzy Rachel Getting Married in three locations for a $302,934 opening: It seems that Anne Hathaway playing against type drew in audiences, with a per-theater average of $33,659. The Keira Knightley period piece The Duchess is also getting some attention, but its expansion to 127 theaters for a total of $895,312 was probably not as strong as the studio would have liked. Its total cume now stands at $1.9 million.
Next weekend should be another solid frame with the Russell Crowe-Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle Body of Lies opening, along with football film The Express and horror film Quarantine. But don?t be surprised if that Chihuahua keeps scampering to the top of the pack.