Box office preview: 'Social Network' to top crop of new releases

the-social-network-eisenburgImage Credit: Merrick MortonThe media, and I include Entertainment Weekly in this group, has practically ordained The Social Network as the Best. Movie. Ever. So it’s little surprise that Sony is trying to tamp down expectations on what is essentially an adult drama centered on a very popular subject matter. Yes, it’s got the A-list pedigree of director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin and Oscar talk for actors Jesse Eisenberg and our new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Plus, Justin Timberlake’s buzz factor doesn’t hurt either. Still, it’s a big question as to how all the positive press — and reviews — translates into box office. Regardless of how big it opens, I expect to be talking about The Facebook Movie for another few months, at the very least. And for this frame, the film is destined to land on top for sure. Its primary competition is last weekend’s top grosser Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and two new horror releases: Let Me In, the artful adaptation of the Swedish horror film from director Matthew Reeves’ (Cloverfield), and Case 39, the long-shelved horror flick starring real-life couple Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper. Neither are expected to do much this weekend. Read on for my predictions of the top five.

1. The Social Network: $28 million

Studio sources are predicting $20 million, but they’re likely underselling to maximize positive response to a much higher number. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 97 percent fresh rating, and Flickster has it at its highest want-to-see rating of all new releases. In fact, the movie-going site indicates that the under-25 crowd is anticipating the film just as much as adults. With all that interest, the film could gross upwards of $30 million, but I’m going to be conservative in my guess today.

2. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: $10 million

The Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf-starrer is destined to hit tough times its sophomore session due to competition from Social Network. I’ll go with a 45 percent drop for the Oliver Stone-directed sequel, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the fall-off is steeper.

3. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: $8 million

Let’s go with a 50 percent drop for Zack Snyder’s owl movie. Sure, there’s not much out there for kids right now, but there’s always the option of not going to the movies. I just don’t believe the movie with the impossible title is going to connect any more with audiences than it already has.

4. Let Me In: $8 million

This Chloë Moretz-starring horror flick is also scoring brilliantly high reviews. Perhaps high enough to give it an edge over the owls. It is, however, R-rated, and the film’s marketing spend isn’t nearly as robust as those of the bigger studios. But positive word-of-mouth will surely be great enough to recover the film’s close-to-$20 million budget.

5. The Town: $7.5 million

Ben Affleck has already racked in over $50 million after The Town‘s two weekends in release. And last weekend, the Boston-set heist drama lost only 35 percent of its value. My guess is it falls 50 percent this frame, only because of the competition from The Social Network.

Also bowing this frame:

Case 39 will open in around 2,000 theaters but grosses aren’t expected to be big. This movie was at one time destined straight-to-video, but that changed when the marketers at Paramount thought they could make hay of it in theaters. Not sure releasing it on the same weekend as Let Me In was the way to go.


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  • Brett

    Based on past box office trends and advanced buzz, I’d say the high-20s are the very low end for this film. Could top 40 million by Sunday’s estimates.

    • Jason

      $40 Million? Are you kidding me? I bet you are one of those people who thought Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was also going to do well at the box office. Internet buzz + hype from critics /=(does not equal) good box office. this movie is going to crash and burn that’s why Sony is trying to get the critics to take down their estimation. They don’t want to look like fools.

      • Brett

        We’ll see, kid.

      • Mark

        That’s an apt comparison with Scott Pilgrim since it took me forever to figure out that the guy on the poster for Social Network wasn’t Michael Cera.

      • John

        Wow, you are a jerk. Easily grossing $40 mil this weekend.

      • Will

        Scott Pilgrim is a poor comparison. Scott Pilgrim was geared for teens/young adults whereas the Social Network has a much wider demographic.
        Plus the Social Network is getting much better reviews.

      • Erin

        Mark,

        So you think a movie will do poorly boxoffice-wise because you are too stupid to know the difference between Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg?

      • B-

        This movie has Fincher, Sorkin, Great Reviews, Oscar Buzz. It is a sure thing to get older and younger audiences. This weekend it will easily top 30 million. Also comparing it to Scott Pilgrim is dumb since Scott Pilgrim was a movie with very limited appeal made by a still unknown outside of geek circles director. There is no comparison.

    • bruno

      yeah. i’d say 40’s if not higher.

    • Ronnie D.

      Agreed.

  • dipshat

    I’ll be seeing the social network this weekend!

  • m1

    I hope the good films do well (You Again better drop hard).

  • Alex

    Its a shame about ‘Legend of the Guardians’ amazing movie.

  • John

    Terrible predictions. How can anyone expect horror movies to not do awesome business in October? Let Me In is getting great reviews, so people will see it, and Case 39 is PG-13 horror, and teenagers come out in droves to even the worst PG-13 horror flicks.

    • Jennifer

      There is no longer a direct correlation between reviews and box office. I have even noticed that the better reviewed horror films tend to do worse than the bad ones. So many well received movies do terrible, but a lot do great. Same goes for the movies with bad reviews. Reviews are not a factor to most people these days.

    • m1

      Case 39 is rated R.

  • John

    Shame on me, Case 39 is rated R. Comment withdrawn.

  • Connor

    mid 20’s seems about right for ‘Social’. Word of mouth will carry it for a couple weeks I’d say, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did 100 mill domestically when all is said & done. I really hope Let Me In does well. Also, lets not forget about Adam Green’s Hatchet 2, the first horror film to go to theaters unrated in 25 years. It would be awesome to see it crack the top 10.

    • Morley

      I was just away to say about Hatchet 2, we can’t forgot about this level of awesomeness!!! :)

      • Lee

        In a just world Hatchet 2 would be getting a wide release.

  • nodnarb

    I expect to be talking about The Facebook Movie for another few months… especially since the whole site appears to be sponsored by it!

  • susanmarie

    The Social Network has received stellar reviews but, for me, seeing a movie about how Facebook was founded is up there with watching paint dry. Now I know it IS probably a great movie but I will wait awhile on this one. Still, it will pull at least $25M probably.

    • marie

      I saw an early screening and trust me it’s a great movie. By the time it’s over you can’t wait to see it again. I”m, in fact, going to see it tonight. lol

  • Sheila

    40 mil in the first weekend for Social Network is quite doable. Buzz is extraordinary.

  • mel

    While I have absolutely no urge to see this movie, I would not be surprised if it did well. That would be a shame, because it looks really lame (hah I made a rhyme!)

  • Sasha

    I am going with the studio’s estimate of 20 million or a bit below. People might be turned off by the premise of a movie based on facebook.

  • Phil

    Contrary to the litany of new movie releases the past few weeks (all mostly bad films), it is now October, where horrible movies that pass for ‘scary horror’ films will rule for the next 5 weeks. LET ME IN & CASE 39 might not have what it takes to take down THE SOCIAL NETWORK, but after seeing the film last night, the movie is GOOD, not great. If anything Jesse Eisenberg & Justin Timberlake should receive nods for their acting, but a Best Picture nod seems unlikely at this point. The characters are so driven & desperate to succeed that they lack any & all normal human pathos. The dialogue between characters is fast & furious(Sorkin) but the characters are so intense that repeat viewing of this film seems like it would be difficult. Don’t get me wrong…I think it’ll do well this weekend, but 40 million seems unlikely when there are a slew of other new movies opening that aren’t nearly as pretensious.

    • Will

      Sorry, but you’re a fool if you think The Social Network will not receive a best picture nomination, especially with 10 nominees.

    • Dave

      Actually, looking at the stellar reviews for The Social Network, a Best Picture nomination is looking very likely.

  • At

    If I have the time, I’m going to try to catch a matinee showing

  • David

    that boybander with the squeaky voice is soooo over-rated!!

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