"Chihuahua" best in show at box office

Sun Oct 5, 2008 3:00pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Canine comedy "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" was top dog at the North American box offices, digging up $29 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Thriller "Eagle Eye" with rising star Shia LaBeouf fell to No. 2 in its second week with $17.7 million, and teen comedy-romance "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist", starring the awkward heartthrob Michael Cera, debuted at No. 3 with $12 million.

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" scored big for Walt Disney Pictures, a unit of The Walt Disney Co., with an irresistible dog tale and a smart marketing campaign that appealed to parents and kids who haven't had a good family film in months, industry watchers said.

"Everyone in Hollywood thought the little chihuahua would take a big bite out of the box office," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers.

The top chihuahua is Papi, the street-wise pet of a gardener who falls head over heels for a pampered, diamond-clad Beverly Hills pooch named Chloe. When Chloe gets lost in Mexico, Papi heads south of the border to rescue his love.

"Eagle Eye," about two people in a race against time to prove they are not fugitives from the law, helped push the overall box office up for the second consecutive weekend after months of slumps. The film released by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc, has $54.6 million to show in proceeds in its first two weeks.

"Nick & Norah" looks to be another modestly budgeted winner for Sony Corp, recouping in its first weekend nearly all its $13 million cost.

Nick and Norah, played by Cera of "Juno" and "Superbad" fame and Kat Dennings, are New Jersey high school students who frequent the rock clubs of New York and depict today's youth in all its Facebook, iPod glory.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Jamie Lee Curtis (R), holding Chihuahuas Angel, and comedian George Lopez holding Rusco, pose at the world premiere of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, September 18, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>