What-chu What-chu What-chu Want?
1 Beverly Hills Chihuahua $29,000,000 $9,020 $29,000,000
2 Eagle Eye $17,700,000 (-39.3%) $5,034 $54,605,000
3 Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist $12,000,000 $4,957 $12,000,000
4 Nights in Rodanthe $7,355,000 (-45.2%) $2,722 $25,075,000
5 Appaloosa $5,015,000 (+3,321.6%) $4,799 $5,570,000
6 Lakeview Terrace $4,500,000 (-35.4%) $1,748 $32,140,000
7 Burn After Reading $4,083,000 (-34.1%) $1,703 $51,641,000
8 Fireproof $4,069,000 (-40.5%) $4,776 $12,491,000
9 An American Carol $3,810,000 $2,325 $3,810,000
10 Religulous $3,500,000  $6,972 $3,519,000 

This just in: These two droids. Both are hard working, and will serve you well.

There is an excuse to be made for the high ranking of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Parents know what talking dog movies are – hell the entire culture has been train on helpful or smart animals for over fify years. And though peanut butter has been replaced with CGI, the appeal of it is not unfamiliar to audiences. Mixed with Disney’s likely very smart advertising campaign, and the lack of other children’s entertainments (other than Lakeview Terrace) and Disney’s got a real shot at getting this picture to a nine digit payoff if it can do business between now and Madagascar 2. And if High School Musical 2 doesn’t step on it. Or jump on it. Dunno, it’s a musical, right? What? It’s the third one? And none of these went theatrical before? Crazy times.

Holding up second was Eagle Eye. Though by the nature of the cast and premise, this looks to be more expensive than Disturbia (which surely turned a quick nickel for Dreamworks), but though the film will likely not be as remunerative, it’s undeniably successful on its September terms. Disturbia played long, though, and this.. not so much. In the end it should get to about the same numbers as Disturbia, but it opened bigger, which does say something. And that’s that Mutt Jones Jr. is going places, like to the Dreamworks commissary for more pudding.  

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Title opened. Since Michael Cera is probably the only one who got paid, if this film gets to $30-$40 it’s going to be considered a win. Cera is currently more respected than loved, whch means he’ll work, but after this loses a little credit for Superbad and Juno. N&N’s did not look like a winner so there’s that, and Sony did not give it the push those more successful films got. But N&N’s does feature what Diablo Cody described as “Kat Dennings’ perfect, pillowy cleavage” so Dennings might also have a following that leads to starbursts. I guess Diablo’s saying she’d like to take a nap on Kat Dennings. Who wouldn’t? I would like that to become a qualification for attractiveness. “Person you’d most like to sleep on.”

If you didn’t see that as a direct transition to Nights in Rodanthe, well, then call me Josh Brolin. Some of you may find that sexist, but I will say this: I think Diane Lane is more qualified to be vice president than Sarah Palin. The film doesn’t suggest a level-out yet, so $40 may be as high as it goes. If these films are made reasonably, then it will likely turn a profit, if not now, then through DVD.

Appaloosa is an expansion run, but not an academy picture. Actually, what it is is a leftover New Line picture. Warner Brothers – on one hand – has to go through the motions, but on the other would probably prefer that it didn’t make money. And Lakeview Terrace is looking to double its budget. Yay it! Burn After Reading found it’s audience, and should get a little over $60, which is a win all around. Fireproof was supposedly very cheap, so it should be happy, though it will likely not clear $20, and will start leaving theaters come Thursday night.

But, once again, I’ve buried the lede. The most interesting story of the week is the $310,000 that separates the weekend grosses of Religulous and An American Carol. both are deeply partisan efforts that mostly preach to the choir, and may have attracted some people who were morally opposed to the message just to see what the opposition were saying. That’s a thin line between the two, and you might suggest there’s a taint difference in gross. Poland talks about the “geek eight,” which I find too amorphous, but perhaps there’s a “Partisan Four.” Carol gets the gross win, but Religulous, wins the per-screen, which means it will likely be doing better next week and therefore should finish with a bigger total. I had a friend who was desperate to get a torrent of Ben Stein’s Expelled but has yet to find one, because the audience who saw the picture didn’t think to bootleg it. I bet there’s already more torrents for Religulous then Carol. Perhaps that’s a victory.

ADDENDUM: Sadness for How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and Blindness, both of which did just over two million and charted out of the top ten. A Simon Pegg-starring rom-com doesn’t have the cross appeal to make the Geek eight, while the trailers were so terrible it could be considered anti-advertising, while I guess the blind protests helped steer people away from the latter. Or maybe it was the reviews that couldn’t muster up any enthusiasms. Enthusiasms.