There have been a number of moderate- to high-profile box office fizzles in the past few weeks -- 'tis the season, I suppose, though the flop ratio seems higher than average this year -- and this week adds a couple more to the list. First and most surprising is the tepid performance of Body of Lies, which couldn't leverage the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, or Ridley Scott to open to more than $13 million. I don't really get it: the marketing was action-packed and fairly ubiquitous (though a bit confusing -- people apparently had trouble deciphering the trailer), and I thought the star wattage would do more for the film. (On the other hand, Scott's A Good Year, which also starred Crowe, died an even harder death.) Is anything involving Iraq or the Middle East really that much of a turn-off right now? Or maybe anything perceived as serious? It's really a superb film, and one that benefits from the big screen; you should check it out before it vanishes.

Another addition to the list of big fat flops is Fox's City of Ember, which crashed and burned at number ten (10). I haven't seen it yet, but I'm a big, big fan of Gil Kenan's debut Monster House, and so was rooting for Ember. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone knew that it existed. The football drama The Expressdoesn't count as a flop, I don't think, since no one expected it to do much better than it did: $4.7 million in sixth place. People just couldn't bring themselves to care about this story again, though the movie isn't bad.

The weekend's hits were exercises in escapist frivolity, which might support one of my hypotheses regarding Body of Lies' failure. Beverly Hills Chihuahua held on to the top spot with $17.5 million, ensuring a sequel. And the low-budget Quarantine took second in a huge victory for Screen Gems -- a $14 million opening for a movie like this is gold.

The full list of estimates after the jump.
1 - Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) - $17.51 ($5,442) - $52.54
2 - Quarantine (Screen Gems) - $14.20 ($5,770) - $14.20
3 - Body of Lies (Warner Bros.) - $13.12 ($4,841) - $13.12
4 - Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $11.02 ($3,048) - $70.55
5 - Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (Sony) - $6.50 ($2,685) - $20.81
6 - The Express (Universal) - $4.73 ($1,685) - $4.73
7 - Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros.) - $4.61 ($1,790) - $32.37
8 - Appaloosa (New Line) - $3.34 ($2,589) - $10.89
9 - The Duchess (Paramount Vantage) - $3.32 ($2,752) - $5.62
10 - City of Ember (Fox) - $3.20 ($1,583) - $3.20

Numbers from Box Office Mojo

Next week: Max Payne, The Secret Life of Bees, the teen comedy Sex Drive (which boasted an audience of, oh, 15 people at the public sneak preview I attended last Saturday night in San Francisco), and one of the fall's most intriguing question marks: W. I initially thought that Stone's Bush biopic would do poorly -- are people really in the mood for this during election season? -- but Lionsgate has done a decent job of selling it, and I no longer think its returns will be embarrassing. But we'll see.