Weekend Report: 'Social Network' No Wallflower in Its Debut

The Social Network was popular, though the box office wasn't as atwitter with the Facebook drama as the hype, while two horror movies about scary children, Case 39 and Let Me In, were ignored. Overall business was down 12 percent from the same weekend last year when Zombieland debuted.

Handily topping the weekend, The Social Network posted $22.4 million on approximately 3,800 screens at 2,771 locations, which was solid for a biographical or topical drama. That was greater than Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps's $19 million launch last weekend, though it didn't score as highly as 21 ($24.1 million) among comparable titles.

Given its behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Facebook phenomenon, Social Network naturally received a lot of media coverage, but its marketing campaign didn't rest on that, aggressively selling the picture as the dramatic, generation-defining rise of the world's youngest billionaire ("You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies"). Distributor Sony Pictures' exit polling indicated that 53 percent of the audience was female and 55 percent was aged 25 years and older. Social Network was the third adult-appealing drama in a row to top the box office, following The Town and the Wall Street sequel, although it had a far greater youth draw than those titles.

Case 39 claimed a scant $5.4 million at 2,211 locations, which was near the bottom of the supernatural horror subgenre and in the same range as The Return and The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Originally scheduled to be released two and a half years ago, Case 39 has been on the shelf for some time and was a late addition to this weekend, yet its generic ads had the temerity to proclaim the picture the horror event of the year. Distributor Paramount Pictures reported that females accounted for 53 percent of Case 39's audience, while 55 percent was 25 years and older.

Let Me In nabbed an anemic $5.1 million on around 2,200 screens at 2,021 locations, which was weak by vampire movie standards and even less than Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant from last October. Let Me In's marketing favored a creepy tone over clarity and character, but the movie's premise lacked broad appeal as well: the successful vampire movies have dealt with romance and/or action, and they feature characters who are teens and/or adults (who are also the genre's audience). It also didn't help that ads emphasized that the movie was from the director of Cloverfield. In addition to its mixed reception, that picture had nothing to do with Let Me In.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole clung to second place with $10.9 million, lifting its tally to a modest $30.1 million in ten days. The computer-animated adventure descended 32 percent, which was about the same rate as How to Train Your Dragon but steeper than Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, albeit with a fraction of their grosses.

The bears took Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in its second weekend. The Wall Street sequel fell 47 percent to $10.1 million, increasing its total gross to $35.8 million in ten days.

Holding well, The Town pulled in $9.7 million, down 38 percent. It lost more ground to The Departed, but has been a strong performer in its own right, grossing $64.1 million in 17 days.

Comedies Easy A and You Again had relatively small dips, though their fortunes were far apart. Down 36 percent, Easy A made $6.7 million, upping its sum to a good $42.2 million in 17 days. Easing 32 percent, You Again bagged $5.7 million for a poor $16.6 million tally in ten days.

Last Weekend

'Wall Street' Sequel Yields Solid Returns

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2009 - 'Zombieland' Livens Up Horror Comedy Genre

• 2008 - 'Chihuahua' Cha-chas to the Top

• 2007 - 'Heartbreak Kid' Gets Hurt, 'Game Plan' Tops Again

• 2006 - 'Departed' Out-Muscles 'Massacre'

• 2005 - 'Were-Rabbit' Hoppin', 'Serenity' Droppin'

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Weekend Box Office Results

2010 Grosses