‘Max Payne’ Takes Aim At ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ For Box-Office #1

Despite disappointing opening, awards buzz builds around 'W.'

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 “Max Payne” ($18 million)
#2 “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” ($11.2 million)
#3 “The Secret Life of Bees” ($11.1 million)
#4 “W.” ($10.6 million)
#5 “Eagle Eye” ($7.3 million)

With only a couple of weeks left before the presidential election, director Oliver Stone was betting that audiences would want to look back on the nation’s controversial leader of the past eight years. As it turned out, viewers were instead eager to relive a whole different kind of pain.

Mark Wahlberg‘s “Max Payne” led the weekend box office with $18 million, putting it in first place. The moody, noir-esque adaptation of the best-selling video game series cast the former Funky Bunch leader as a disgruntled cop out to avenge the murder of his family. Mila Kunis, Chris O’Donnell and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges all played against type in the flick that was directed by hit (“Behind Enemy Lines”) or miss (“The Omen”) filmmaker John Moore.

The big opening for “Payne” (and the lackluster debut of “W.”) meant that Wahlberg and Josh Brolin would only be hanging out together in New York this weekend. As far as the box office was concerned, there’d be two films standing between the “Saturday Night Live” guest stars.

The unstoppable, unfathomable “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” took in another $11.2 million, putting the talking-dog movie in second place and its total take at just under $70 million. Opening right behind it was newcomer “The Secret Life of Bees,” which doesn’t have a single talking bee in it. Instead, the period drama about a 14-year-old girl who escapes her father’s abuse by fleeing to South Carolina and finding a new family among honey-farming sisters stars Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and the suddenly back-on-the-scene Dakota Fanning.

Fool me twice and we won’t get fooled again, but Stone’s “W.” couldn’t fool enough people into caring again about the outgoing administration, and so the controversial biopic opened softly in fourth place. Taking in $10.6 million, the film stars Brolin as our 43rd president, alongside a supporting cast that includes such actor’s actors as James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn and Richard Dreyfuss. The film may still have a second term in its future, however, as buzz is building around Brolin and others as possibly award-worthy candidates.

Breaking with his usual Hollywood catchphrase, Shia LaBeouf is likely screaming “Yes, yes, yes!” at this very moment, as his “Eagle Eye” continues to hover in the top five. The thriller continues its march toward the $100 million neighborhood, making it a profitable sleeper hit.

The funnier-than-it-should-be “Sex Drive” opened weakly in ninth place with $3.6 million, surrounded by the likes of “Body of Lies” (sixth place, $6.9 million), “Quarantine” (seventh, $6.3 million), “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (eighth, $3.9 million) and “Nights in Rodanthe” (10th, $2.7 million). Just outside the top 10, Kirk Cameron’s “Fireproof” earned enough to surpass the $20 million milestone, and has now grossed 40 times its budget.

Upcoming Releases

OMG! Next weekend everybody had better get out of the way, because the high-kicking students of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” will be singing and dancing their way into theaters nationwide. For those who prefer a complete-polar-opposite alternative, Angelina Jolie will be baiting Oscar with “Changeling,” directed by Clint Eastwood. And if you think Zac Efron’s hair isn’t spooky enough, perhaps you’d prefer the annual torture-chamber thrills that will rise again in “Saw V.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Max Payne,” ” Beverly Hills Chihuahua “ and “The Secret Life of Bees.”

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