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'Chihuahua' bites Crowe, DiCaprio at box office

LOS ANGELES, Oct 12 (Reuters) - The new terrorism thriller “Body of Lies” failed to take the top spot at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday, becoming the latest victim of moviegoer aversion to movies dealing with Middle East intrigue.

The $70 million Warner Bros. film, starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio as American spies, had to settle for the No. 3 slot with $13.1 million, behind reigning champ “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and the new low-budget horror “Quarantine.”

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua," a Walt Disney Co DIS.N family comedy with a cast of talking dogs, earned $17.5 million during the three days beginning Friday, taking its 10-day haul to $52.5 million.

"Quarantine" followed at No. 2 with $14.2 million. The $12 million film was released by Screen Gems, a unit of Sony Corp 6758.TSNE.N. Also new was Universal Pictures' $38 million football drama "The Express," which dropped the ball at No. 6 with just $4.7 million. The studio is a unit of General Electric Co's GE.N NBC Universal.

Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc TWX.N, had been predicting that "Body of Lies" would open at No. 1 with a three-day sum possibly reaching the high-teen millions.

“I’m a bit disappointed,” said Dan Fellman, the studio’s domestic distribution president. “It was too good for the gross it recorded.”

He said the film’s subject matter may have been too grim for moviegoers seeking some escapism at a time of global financial turmoil. It did not help that other Iraq war-related movies, such as “Rendition,” “Redacted,” “Stop-Loss” and “In the Valley of Elah,” have also bombed at the box office. (Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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