‘Chihuahua’ leads box office pack

Disney film nets $7.8 million Friday

In a Friday crowded with seven new wide releases, Disney’s pooch pic “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” barked the loudest, generating an estimated $7.8 million at 3,215 theaters.

Among the Mouse House’s live-action PG-rated fall fare, “Chihuahua’s” haul is on par with those films that bowed to $20+ million. “Chihuahua’s” coin bested the $6.3 million first day of last September’s “The Game Plan” which posted a three-day of $23 million. With a leash on the top box office spot, “Chihuahua” should see a further boost in its grosses today from moppet matinees.

DreamWorks’ actioner “Eagle Eye” distributed by Paramount charted second with $5.5 million at 3,516 and a 44% decline from its opening day a week ago. Through eight days, “Eagle Eye’s” $42.4 million B.O. is pacing ahead of thesp Shia LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso’s previous foray “Disturbia” by 32%. “Disturbia” finaled its domestic tally at $80.2 million.

Sony’s teen comedy “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings opened in third with an estimated $4.3 million from 2,421 sites.

In fourth, the second Friday for Warner Bros.’ Richard Gere-Diane Lane romance drama “Nights in Rodanthe” saw $2.4 million on 2,702, a 49% decline, and an eight day total of $20.1 million.

After a theater count jump from 14 to 1,045 in its third Friday, Warner Bros.’ oater “Appaloosa” surged past a slew of new titles and holdovers, grabbing fifth with $1.6 million. The current cume for the Ed Harris – Viggo Mortensen film currently stands at $2.2 million.

The rest of Friday’s wide entries slotted toward the bottom of the top ten or beyond. The most impressive of the bunch, given its limited release, was Lionsgate’s Bill Maher doc “Religulous” which reaped $1.14 million from 502 venues for a per theater of $2,280. The film, directed by “Borat” helmer Larry Charles, bowed on Wednesday in two New York theaters where it generated $19,000 in its first two days.

Vivendi comedy “An American Carol” by “Airplane” helmer David Zucker took in $1.2 million from 1,639. Miramax’s drama “Blindness” by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles minted $733,000 off 1,690. Universal’s Greg Kinnear starrer “Flash of Genius” settled with $719,000 at 1,098. MGM’s comedy “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” starring Blighty thesp Simon Pegg clocked in $455,000 from 1,750. “People” tells the story about a Vanity Fair writer’s struggles and features Jeff Bridges as a Graydon Carter-like editor. Pegg’s last British laffer “Run Fat Boy Run” pulled in $787,000 on its first day in March on 1,133 and a first weekend of $2.3 million.

Jonathan Demme’s romantic drama “Rachel Getting Married” saw the highest theater average yesterday among limited fare. Distributed by Sony Classics and starring Anne Hathaway, “Rachel” boasted $8,560 at nine Gotham and Los Angeles locations or $77,000.