weekend box office: Max Payne kicks chihuahua butt… a little

Well, at least Beverly Hills Chihuahua is dropping, however slowly:

1. Max Payne: $18 million (NEW)
2. Beverly Hills Chihuahua: $11.2 million (dropping 36% in its 3rd week)
3. The Secret Life of Bees: $11 million (NEW)
4. W.: $10.6 million (NEW)
5. Eagle Eye: $7.3 million (4th week)
Eighteen million isn’t too bad for a flick opening pretty much on the strength of Mark Wahlberg alone (did the videogame angle draw many? I doubt it…). That’s about $4 million more than the last movie to open on his name alone, Shooter, a year and a half ago.

Seriously, though, what is it with this doggie movie? Is it just that there’s nothing else even remotely aimed at little kids at the moment? Are parents and aunties and babysitters sacrificing brain cells to take the tykes to this?

The awful Sex Drive (yes, I’ll post a quick review ASAP) opened at No. 9 with only $3.6 million, so it’s not all bad news this weekend.

This is traditionally a pretty low time, box-office-wise, at the movies: we’re in a little bit of a lull between the big summer movies finally disappearing and the real arrival of the serious Oscar contenders. As they start going wide over the next few weeks, things will probably pick up a little… if those prestige pix get decent enough reviews to draw the grownups tired of singing chihuahuas. The indie, foreign, and arthouse numbers seem to lend some credence to that prospect, though: limited releases are doing nicely on a per-screen basis:

1. Happy-Go-Lucky, $12,222 on each of nine screens
2. Rachel Getting Married, $10,464 (69 screens)
3. Frontrunners, $7,400 (1 screen)
4. The Secret Life of Bees, $6,945 (1,591 venues)
5. What Just Happened, $6,000 (36 screens)
6. RocknRolla, $5,955 (22 screens)

For comparison’s sake, Max Payne’s per-screen was $5,332 (3,376 venues).

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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