Small dogs can do big things — at least they did for moviegoers this weekend. Disney’s new ode to the small canine, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, was by far the alpha dog at the box office, according to preliminary numbers released by tracking firm Nielsen EDI.

The pup flick earned $29 million, surpassing last week’s number one, Shia LaBeouf’s thriller “Eagle Eye”. The film, also starring Michelle Monaghan, finished second with a take of $17.7 million this weekend. The Michael Cera comedy “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” was third, raking in $12 million, while the Richard Gere-Diane Lane romantic drama “Nights in Rodanthe” was fourth with $7.4 million. The critically acclaimed western “Appaloosa” expanded nationwide and was fifth with $5 million.

Just in time for the elections was a host of political fare. The spoof comedy “American Carol” did a respectable $3.8 million, good for ninth. “Religulous”, the skewering of religion from comedian Bill Maher, was tenth with $3.5 million, even though it was playing on only 500 screens.

Final numbers are released Monday afternoon.

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Box Office Grosses
Week Ending October 5, 2008

Rank Title Weekend Total Gross
1 Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) $29M $29M
2 Eagle Eye (2008) $17.7M $54.6M
3 Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) $12M $12M
4 Nights in Rodanthe (2008) $7.36M $25.1M
5 Appaloosa (2008) $5.01M $5.57M
6 Lakeview Terrace (2008) $4.5M $32.1M
7 Burn After Reading (2008) $4.08M $51.6M
8 Fireproof (2008) $4.07M $12.5M
9 An American Carol (2008) $3.81M $3.81M
10 Religulous (2008) $3.5M $3.52M