Sign of the Apocalypse: Beverly Hills Chihuahua Is #1


Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua was number one at the domestic box office this past weekend, and so you should probably steel yourself for a few more articles like this one (from yesterday’s New York Times) attempting to predict the future of the movie industry based on one lousy hit. Times reporter Brookes Barnes argues that “[e]scapism definitely ruled the weekend” because a frivolous movie, Chihuahua, beat out a serious one—Ridley Scott’s new Iraq thriller, Body of Lies. Admittedly, I have seen neither Body of Lies nor Chihuahua (though if the trailer for the latter is any indication, it has all the sophistication and cultural sensitivity of a Taco Bell ad). Nevertheless, Barnes’s interpretation of the weekend’s receipts requires a long list of assumptions, not the least of which is that Scott is an auteur deserving of our cash and esteem and not the bombastic, overrated hack who gave us G.I. Jane, Hannibal, and Kingdom of Heaven. Chihuahua played on 3,215 screens across the country this weekend, according to IMDb (there are no numbers published on the site for Body of Lies) and it’s worth remembering that ticket buyers have to choose from what’s available, not what they ideally want to see. Frankly, if I have to choose between a talking dog and Leonardo DiCaprio. . .well, that’s no choice at all.—Benjamin Strong