The family film added an estimated $17.5m to raise the running total to $52.5m and had enough bite to fend off a strong challenge by Screen Gems' horror remake Quarantine. That film, an English-language version of the 2007 Spanish horror [Rec], arrived on a wave of mostly positive reviews and debuted in second place on $14.2m.
Close behind in third place on $13.1m was Warner Bros' terrorism thriller Body Of Lies from director Ridley Scott starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and the UK's dark prince Mark Strong. It earned mixed reviews and on first glance has failed to break the pattern of other war-themed films released over the past 18 months or so by breaking out at the box office. The US financial collapse will not have helped matters and audiences were clearly in a mood to be entertained.
On that note, DreamWorks-Paramount's paranoia thriller Eagle Eye stayed afloat in its third weekend and demonstrated Shia LaBeouf's credentials as a viable box office draw among the young crowd. It fell two places to fourth on $11m for $70.6m after three weekends.
Universal's The Express, a drama starring Rob Brown as the high flying African-American college sports star Ernie Davis, opened in sixth place on $4.7m. Dennis Quaid plays the no-nonsense team coach.
The period drama The Duchess, released in North America through Paramount Vantage and starring Keira Knightely as Lady Diana's feisty ancestor Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire, vaulted 11 places to ninth in its fourth weekend on $3.3 for $5.6m. Fox-Walden's children's fantasy drama City Of Ember starring Bill Murray opened in tenth place on an uninspiring $3.2m.
Samuel Goldwyn Film's Christian drama Fireproof continued to deliver solid returns despite slipping three places to 11th and added $3.2m for $16.9m in its third weekend. A quartet of titles - Lionsgate's Religulous, Universal's Flash Of Genius, Vivendi's maiden release An American Carol and MGM's How To Lose Friends And Alienate People - all began to slide in their second weekends. In the case of How To Lose Friends And Alienate People the slide is precipitous.
There were two British high achievers in the limited arena this weekend. Warner Bros tested the waters with Guy Ritchie's latest film RocknRolla starring Gerard Butler and opened the gangster romp in 31st place on $141,000 from seven theatres ($200,000 since Wednesday October 8). Miramax launched Mike Leigh's comedy Happy-Go-Lucky, which earned Sally Hawkins the Berlin Silver Bear last February, in 32nd place on $80,000 from four. SPC opened Wong Kar-wai's Ashes Of Time Redux in 37th place on $22,000 from five.
Next weekend's wide releases are: Fox's video game adaptation Max Payne starring Mark Wahlberg; Lionsgate's George W Bush drama W from Oliver Stone; Summit's teen comedy Sex Drive; and Fox Searchlight's female drama The Secret Life Of Bees with Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Sophie Okonedo and Jennifer Hudson.
Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 10-12, 2008
Film (Dist)/Int'l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date
1 (1) Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $17.5m $52.5m
2 (-) Quarantine (Screen Gems) SPRI/various $14.2m -
3 (-) Body Of Lies (Warner Bros) WBPI $13.1m -
4 (2) Eagle Eye (DreamWorks-Paramount) PPI $11m $70.6m
5 (3) Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist (Sony) SPRI $6.5m $20.8m
6 (-) The Express (Universal) UPI $4.7m -
7 (4) Nights In Rodanthe (Warner Bros) WBPI/Village Roadshow $4.6m $32.4m
8 (5) Appaloosa (Warner Bros) New Line Int'l $3.3m $10.9m
9 (20) The Duchess (Paramount Vantage) Pathe Int'l $3.3m $5.6m
10 (-) City Of Ember (Fox-Walden) Summit Int'l $3.2m -