Screen image from 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'
With a seemingly dire financial crisis raging on the TV news, movie audiences chose cute chihuahuas over and a horror flick over big stars in a timely political drama.

For the second weekend in a row, the talking dogs of Beverly Hills Chihuahua were the top box office attraction in U.S. theaters, raking in $17.5 million this time, for a ten-day total of $52.5 million so far.

According to Disney distribution head Chuck Vlane, much of the audience consists of adults looking for an escape from bad economic news, as quoted by AP:

"This is only word-of-mouth coming back to us from theaters. I don’t have any statistical proof. But they’re telling us we’re getting more unaccompanied-by-children adults coming on their own. They’re looking for a little entertainment," Viane said. "The axiom we’ve always lived by is funny is money. People come out for comedy. They love to sit back and let someone give them a couple of hours of escapism."

It seems likely that a youth-to-twenties crowd flocked to number two film Quarantine, which brought in a respectable $14.2 million in its opening weekend. The trailers for the film looked interesting and stylish—albeit a bit too reminiscent of the visual style of Cloverfield—and the film seems to be attracting audiences looking for that form of escapism.

Although boasting artistically respected, big star attractions in Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and director Ridley Scott, Body of Lies made it only to third place with a mediocre $12.8 million. Audiences weary from the economic crisis and several years of war apparently just weren’t that enthused about a movie dealing with terrorism, espionage, and possible U.S. perfidy as the producers had undoubtedly hoped.

Two other serious films, the football and race issues drama The Express and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama City of Ember, had poor opening weekends, coming in sixth and tenth, respectively.

Dropping out of the top ten in only its second week was the political comedy An American Carol, taking in just under $1.4 million to finish fifteenth, behind the anti-religion satire Religulous, which brought in $2.2 million and finished thirteenth.