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Audience gets friendly with “The Social Network”

Hollywood got bested one out of three with the debut of The Social Network, Case 39, and Let Me In. The pair of horror films landed below the halfway mark with neck and neck numbers while the critically acclaimed Facebook based drama took the top spot. The Social Network is the latest film to match critical acclaim with commercial success. It easily overtook second and third place finishers with $23 million in its first weekend.

“Legend of the Guardians,” “Wall Street,” and The Town nearly tied with about $10 million apiece. Easy A and You Again converged in fifth and sixth place. The pair of chick flicks made $7 million and $5.5 million respectively. Another coupling, this time two horror films, underperformed. Both Case 39 and Let Me In made around $5 million for seventh and eighth positions. Horror pictures aren’t typically chart toppers and Case 39 remained shelved for a reason.

Let Me In having such low numbers is more of a surprise. Considering the vampire craze and niche acclaim for the source material, the remake of Let the Right One In ought to have at least landed in the top five — most horror flicks get that much. But Chloe Moretz will have to settle for being a fanboy favorite and not a bona fide star as of yet.

The Top Ten

  1. The Social Network – $22.4 M (weekend) … $22.4 M (gross)
  2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – $10.8 M … $30 M
  3. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – $10 M … $35.7 M
  4. The Town – $9.7 M  … $64 M
  5. Easy A – $6.7 M … $42.1 M
  6. You Again – $5.7 M … $16.6 M
  7. Case 39 – $5.3 M … $5.3 M
  8. Let Me In – $5.1 M … $5.1 M
  9. Devil – $3.5 M … $27.2 M
  10. Alpha and Omega – $2.9 M … $18.9 

Four movies join the race next week including Buried, Life As We Know It, My Soul To Take (3D), and Secretariat. The market attempts broad counterprogramming with a thriller, a drama, a teen horror, and a family film all in the mix. Buried expands nationwide after a limited release last week. The thriller gained attention in the film festival market and has captured 86% fresh reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

Life As We Know It will be the widest release. Kathryn Heigl is consistently a strong player in the comedy genre, save a glaring hiccup in Killers this past summer. The love-her-or-hate-her starlet can open a film anywhere from $15 to $30 million in a first weekend. Some women will be torn between catching the baby themed comedy and seeing the horse-themed family picture.

Secretariat channels Seabiscuit in the Diane Lane starrer. Family films have been poor starters this fall but Seabiscuit made a $120 million domestic run after a $20 million opening. That was, however, in late July 2003. Something can always be said of a favorable release window. My Soul To Take (3D) won’t break any records; It looks like generic teen horror from Wes Craven, with minorities the first to die and good looking sensitive preps left standing in the end. The 3D appears to be a pure cash grab, with no noticeable reason for the medium being used. The stars are relative unknowns and unfortunately the director has lost his appeal over years of bland offerings. No picture has the staggaring appeal of this week’s number one which has a shot at repeat success.

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