Disney’s rich dog saga Beverly Hills Chihuahua topped the weekend box office for the second week in a row, dropping just 40% and taking in an estimated $17.5 million while vanquishing a quartet of heavily promoted newcomers including the spy drama Body of Lies, which featured the talents of quartet of Academy Award winners, writer William Monahan, director Ridley Scott and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  Audiences appear to be allergic to reality-based, Middle Eastern terrorism/war films, and Body of Lies, which cost and estimated $70 million to produce, is just the latest cinematic casualty of the Iraq War.


The best performing new film was the Sony’s horror film Quarantine, which earned an estimated $14.2 million with a solid $5,770 per theater average, good enough for second place in a weekend that was up just 1.5% from the same frame in 2007.  Sony mounted a solid promotional campaign for Quarantine, which tapped into the pre-Halloween hunger for horror movies among fright fans, but the R-rated movie’s CinemaScore of “C” indicates that a big drop-off is likely.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE (Studio Estimates): Oct. 10-12, 2008



Weekend Gross




Beverly Hills Chihuahua










Body of Lies





Eagle Eye





Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist





The Express





Nights in Rodanthe










The Duchess





City of Ember





Another newcomer, Universal’s The Express, a biopic about football great Ernie Davis, disappointed with a sixth place finish and a mediocre $1,685 average in spite of an excellent marketing campaign that concentrated on sports channels and college football broadcasts.  However The Express earned an “A” rating from moviegoers, which indicates that it could improve its dismal box office performance, or failing that, at least do some damage on DVD.


Eagle Eye, which stars Shia Lebeouf, is the top release of the fall season so far with a three-week total of $70.5 million.  The thriller earned an estimated $11 million, a mere 38% drop from week 2’s total.  Eagle Eye is certain to surpass the $80.2 million total of Disturbia, the previous collaboration of Lebeouf and director D.J. Caruso (who will direct the adaptation of Y: The Last Man).


Fox’s City of Ember was the weekend’s major disappointment, earning just $3.2 million.  With films like Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Game Plan, and Enchanted, Disney has demonstrated a deft touch in targeting the “family audience.”  Failures such as City of Ember prove that it is no simple matter to craft a successful “family film.”


With Oliver Stone’s “W” opening next weekend, it should be noted that political films haven’t fared all that well so far this fall.  An American Carol, a right wing satire of a Michael Moore-type filmmaker opened poorly last week, and then plummeted nearly 60% thanks to a week $928 per theater average.  Bill Maher’s anti-religion documentary Religulous, is not precisely a political film, but it appeals to a more left wing audience, and since it opened the same weekend as An American Carol, comparisons are inevitable.  Despite opening in one third as many theaters, Religulous has now surpassed An American Carol, though with grosses under $7 million, neither film is exactly setting the world on fire.


After thirteen weeks The Dark Knight is still in 375 theaters, and it managed to bring in another half a million dollars bringing its mammoth total to $526,718,000.