Want to know what's cool?
A $28 million opening would have been cool.
As it stands, Sony's much-hyped Facebook biopic "The Social Network" opened to $23 million this weekend, according to studio estimates, missing the exuberant forecasts of some tracking firms — some of which had the extraordinarily well-reviewed, and highly publicized, David Fincher film doing as much as $28 million worth of business — but falling right in line with studio projections.
Co-financed by Sony and Relativity at a cost of under $40 million, "The Social Network" easily won a domestic box office that also featured the wide release of two R-rated horror films, both of which failed to scare up much business amid what will soon become an October glut of scary movies.
Starring Renee Zellweger as a social worker dealing with a demonic young client, Paramount Vantage's long-warehoused "Case 39" grossed $5.4 million playing at 2,211 North American engagements. The $27 million film was released abroad earlier this year, already making $17 million.
Meanwhile, Overture's "Let Me In" — a remake of Swedish critics' darling "Let the Right One In" — grossed $5.3 million playing at 2,021 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The film cost just under $20 million to make.
But if it was gonna happen for "Case 39" and/or "Let Me In," it should have happened, with the only wide-opened horror competition this weekend being Universal's three-week-old holdover "Devil."
Next weekend Universal's Wes Craven-directed 3D film "My Soul to Take" enters theaters; then comes Paramount's "Paranormal Activity 2"; and then Liongate's "Saw 3D."
Overall, the domestic box office declined about 11 percent from the year-ago weekend that was led by the $24.7 million debut of Sony's "Zombieland."
Here's how the top 10 shaped up. Full report continues below chart:
Also a relevant factor at the weekend box office, Warner 3D-animated film "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" found some moviegoers who gave a hoot in week two, dropping only 33 percent to $10.9 million and finishing in second place after a soft debut the week prior.
In third place, Fox's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" declined well under 50 percent in its second weekend, grossing $10.1 million.
Finishing fourth, Warner's Ben Affleck-directed caper film "The Town" remained strong in weekend three, declining 36 percent to $10 million.
But it was "The Social Network" — a film with a 97 percent score on reviews aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes — that was the talk of the multiplex.
"These are the best reviews for any film I've ever seen at Sony, and I've been here for 30 years," remarked studio distribution president Rory Bruer.
Garnering a demographic breakdown that ended up being 53 percent female and 55 percent over the age of 25, the Aaron Sorkin-written movie about Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg's acrimonious, arbitration-hearing-laden founding of a multi-billion-dollar Internet-communications phenomenon, scored a B-plus grade from movie customer-satisfaction ranker Cinemascore.
Surprisingly, the Cinemascore grade shot up to an A-minus for patrons under age 18, despite the fact that the film featured a lightly known cast — Justin Timberlake is probably the biggest star — and there's little to no action to speak of.
Rival studios knocked "Social Network" for playing well on the coasts, but not so much in the Heartland.
Bruer thinks it'll eventually catch on in those regions, too, however.
"It's going to resonate, not only around the country, but around the world," he said.