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Monday, October 6, 2008

'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' top dog with $29m debut, Oct. 3-5, 2008

If America is in a recession it sure doesn't seem to be affecting the movie industry, as Disney's latest foray into the talking dog genre, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, clawed its way to the top spot this weekend with a sizzling $29 million debut. With seven films making their wide release debuts (three of them outside the top ten), and led by those yapping canines, the box office grossed a whopping $91 million this weekend, surging past last year's comparable frame by 44%.

Disney's talking animal family comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua was the perfect medicine to the continually dire financial news dominating the headlines this past week, as the PG-rated flick took in $29 million in its debut frame, averaging a very impressive $9,020 in 3,215 theaters. It was the biggest opening for a children's film since June's Wall-e (a Disney/Pixar release) opened with an impressive $63.1 million.

Directed by Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo 1 & 2), Chihuahua ranks as the third biggest opening ever in the "talking animal" genre, behind only 2007's Alvin and the Chipmunks with $44.3m and 1998's Doctor Dolittle with $29.14m. It was also the second biggest family film opening in September or October history, behind only DreamWorks' Shark Tale with $47.6 million back in 2004. With very few family film alternatives before the holiday season starts in November (Disney's own High School Musical 3: Senior Year opens Oct. 24th), look for Beverly Hills Chihuahua to enjoy a few more solid weekends.

Last week's champ Eagle Eye slipped one notch to second, falling just 39% in its sophomore frame to $17.7 million. In ten days, the Shia LeBeouf starrer has grossed an impressive $54.6 million. Budgeted at $80 million, the Paramount/DreamWorks release has an outside shot at breaking $100 million domestic.

Sony's teen romantic comedy Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist debuted in third with an estimated $12 million, averaging a solid $4,957 in 2,421 theaters. Budgeted at a modest $13 million, the Michael Cera (Juno) starrer should turn in a tidy profit for the studio. Reviews were largely positive for the film.

Richard Gere and Diane Lane's romance Nights in Rodanthe fell 45% in its sophomore frame to $7.4 million, bringing its ten day take to $25.1 million. The poorly-reviewed Warner release should finish with $40 million domestic.

Ed Harris second directorial effort Appaloosa (following 2000's critically acclaimed biopic Pollock) expanded from a two-week limited engagement to a semi-wide 1,045 theater national roll-out this weekend, bringing in $5 million in fifth. Averaging $4,794 per theater, the well-reviewed Warner Bros. western has grossed $5.6 million in three weeks.

The low-budget sleeper hit Fireproof took in another strong $4.07 million this weekend, solidifying the Christian-themed drama as one of the nicer stories of the Fall season. Budgeted at just $500,000, the Samuel Goldwyn release has taken in $12.5 million in ten days, and should surpass $20 million by the end of its run.

Vivendi Entertainment's poorly-reviewed comedy An American Carol managed just $3.8 million in ninth, while Bill Maher's documentary Religulous rounded out the top ten with $3.5 million. Averaging a strong $6,972 in 502 theaters, the Lionsgate release received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics.

Three other debuts whimpered into the marketplace, led by Greg Kinnear's biopic Flash of Genius. The Universal pic managed just $2.3 million in 1,098 theaters, averaging $2,120. Reviews were mixed.

Miramax's thriller Blindness flopped in its wide release debut, earning just $2 million in 1,690 theaters, for a stinging $1,185 average. Critics panned the Julianne Moore pic.

Simon Pegg's comedy How to Lose Friends and Alienate People managed just $1.4 million in 1,750 theaters, for a pathetic $801 average. The MGM release was likewise panned by critics.


Terry said...

How does 1996's 101 Dalmatians qualify as being of the "talking animal" genre? The animals don't talk in that film.


Stephen Wong said...

Great point, I guess I was thinking live action dog movies, but 101 doesn't quit fit the "talking animal" genre. I'll make sure to edit that!

Lucy said...

This is one of the worst movies ever made