All Quiet On The Box-Office Front

The world economy is in the toilet and so escapism is the order of the day in US cinemas with “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” winning the weekend again.

The pooch’s sophmore effort took in $17.5 million, down a very reasonable 40% from last week’s debut, and now totals $53 million. Surely it’s a sign of the apocalypse that a film with this title has a legitimate shot at crossing the $100 million mark right?

Of the newcomers it was Sony’s “Quarantine” which surprisingly came out the best. The low-budget horror remake of Spanish chiller “[REC]” brought in an excellent $14.2 million – a touch above its $12 million budget. Reviews for the genre are normally pretty bad but the film fared decently with a 64% positive and 5.9/10 average score on Rotten Tomatoes along with a 54% & 6.7/10 on Metacritic.

The big news however were the high-profile failures. Ridley Scott’s “Body of Lies” which teamed Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe was the big draw going into the weekend, but the Iraq war drama subject matter once again proved death with it taking in just $13.1 million and coming in third. Already labeled as one of the year’s more notable big budget bombs, the film also drew decidedly mixed reviews (52% & 5.9/10 on RT).

Also faring badly was the Dennis Quaid football drama “The Express which had a decidedly disappointing $4.7 million weekend in 6th place and Fox Walden’s “City of Ember” which had a disastrous debut in 10th place with just $3.2 million for the weekend. Both films scored similar mixed reviews to ‘Lies’.

Holdovers fell along expected lines with Ed Harris western “Appaloosa” and Bill Maher’s anti-religion doco “Religulous” holding particularly well (both dropping around 34% in their second week). Keira Knightley period piece “The Duchess” opened wide and managed to move up to ninth place with $3.3 million.

Faring badly were some of last week’s quiet openers. Conservative comedy “An American Carol” lost 58% from its opening last weekend, the Greg Kinnear drama “Flash of Genius” fell a very large 61.7%, and both the Simon Pegg/Kirsten Dunst comedy “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” and the Julianne Moore thriller “Blindness” plunged almost ridiculous amounts of 70.8% and 75.8% respective in their second week.

On the limited release front came two strong British imports with Guy Ritchie’s “RocknRolla” along with Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky” both taking in $20,000 per screen averages in limited release. Wong Kar Wai’s “Ashes of Time Redux” didn’t do as swell with $4,400 per screen. Anne Hathaway black comedy “Rachel Getting Married” continues holding strong with a $17,185 per screen average.

The failures may be numerous, but the sheer glut of movies right now means a lot of people are out at the movies with cinemagoing up nearly 6% from this time last year.