‘Social Network’ still popular at box office

Justin Timberlake-starrer remains #1, earning an additional $15.5 million

Sony’s “The Social Network” led the weekend by dipping only 31% — the lowest second-weekend drop for any No. 1 film this year — and fending off three wide releases, including Warner Bros.’ “Life as We Know It,” which had topped the B.O. on Friday.

David Fincher-helmed “Social Network” rebounded from its OK Friday showing with particularly healthy numbers Saturday to take in $15.5 million at 2,771 locations, boosting domestic cume to an estimated $46.1 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Life,” with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, fared best among the frame’s frosh trio, trailing “Social Network” with an estimated $14.6 million at 3,150.

Playing mostly to couples and older femmes, Disney’s horse-racing drama “Secretariat,” toplined by Diane Lane and John Malkovich, debuted at No. 3 with an estimated $12.6 million at 3,072.

Meanwhile, Rogue Pictures and Relativity Media added to the recent barrage of low-end horror titles as helmer-scribe Wes Craven’s 3D pic “My Soul to Take” bowed at 2,572 to an estimated $6.9 million, of which 86% came from 3D. Universal is distribbing.The weekend’s debut offerings point to a general lethargy among moviegoers of late, with the frame down 15% vs. a year earlier, when U’s “Couples Retreat” bowed with $34.3 million.

Most new entries have fallen in line with studio expectations, but those expectations have been low. One distrib exec referred to the weekend players this way: “That’s the pool of talent we were able to draw from this year, and it was just OK.”

Focus Features also felt the effects of a down weekend. Distrib’s aggressive rollout of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” turned in disappointing results, estimating $2 million from 742 locations for a low-end per-screen average of $2,712.

On the upside, Sony Pictures Classics’ politically charged docu “Inside Job” debuted at two New York locations, averaging a healthy $21,008 per screen, with a weekend estimate of $42,017. Sony Classics also launched helmer Stephen Frears’ latest “Tamara Drewe,” which posted $19,282 from four U.S. engagements, earning a per of $4,820.

International auds continued to embrace holdover titles expanding to new territories, such as “Eat Pray Love” and “Despicable Me.”

Sony’s Julia Roberts starrer bowed in top market Australia, where it grossed $3.6 million on 328 screens, outpacing similarly femme-targeted titles like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “27 Dresses” by 5%. U had stellar openings for 3D toon “Despicable Me” in markets like France and Spain, earning an estimated $5.3 million and $3.1 million, respectively.

“Eat Pray Love” added $17.4 million in weekend grosses to an overall foreign take of $64.1 million, while “Despicable Me” tallied $16.6 million; international cume is $135.5 million.

Sony kicked off its slow overseas rollout of “Social Network” this weekend, posting an overall $3.2 million from three territories on 452 screens. The film earned $2.5 million in Germany, where it occupied 338 screens. It was second only to “Despicable Me,” which posted $3.8 million there on 797.

Last weekend, “Social Network” topped the domestic charts with $22.4 million, though the majority of that came from the coasts. Sony attributed the film’s holdover potential in other markets to positive word-of-mouth and an adult-skewed demo, as older auds typically avoid opening weekends and are more review-driven.

But Rory Bruer, Sony prexy of worldwide distribution, said pic’s strong week two indicates that “Social Network” broadened beyond its core adult aud in other markets.

“I don’t think of ‘Social Network’ as a film for older audiences,” Bruer said. “It’s the type of movie that doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old.”

Strong exit polls for Warner and Disney’s respective pics could help propel hefty grosses over the long haul. “Life” scored an A- Cinema-Score rating, “Secretariat” a solid A.

Disney distrib topper Chuck Viane pointed to a potentially strong shelf life for “Secretariat” given recent trends in the market. “Pictures aren’t opening as strong, but they’re holding better,” he said.

Warner’s “Life” also could broaden beyond its core adult femme demo, which accounted for 68% of its opening take, on positive word of mouth in subsequent frames. “Given the A- rating, I suspect we’re going to be around for a while,” said Warner exec VP of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein.

Directed by Greg Berlanti, “Life” ranks as one of the lowest openers for Heigl, whose “The Killers” debuted this summer with $15.8 million. That pic went on to cume $47.1 million domestically.

“Secretariat” saw strong perfs in the Midwest, including metros like Salt Lake City, Denver and Dallas, but failed to outpace similar equine drama “Seabiscuit,” which launched with $20.9 million in 2003.

The Mouse House expected “Secretariat” to be a major draw among families, though according to exit polls, that demo accounted for only 27%; couples accounted for 67% of the pic’s opening weekend.

The frame’s third wide release, “My Soul to Take,” also played best with auds over 25, with a 54%-46% male-female split.

Some B.O. experts suggest the weekend’s femme-heavy skew had a cannibalizing effect among its wide releases. “My Soul to Take” also could have lost auds to soph sesh horror pics “Case 39” and “Let Me In,” both of which had respectable drops for the genre.

“Case 39,” which fell 51%, tallied $2.6 million, while “Let Me In” grossed $2.4 million, down 53% from its opening weekend. Domestic cumes are $9.6 million for “Case 39” and $9.1 million for “Let Me In.”

Other notable holdovers included Warner pair “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole” and “The Town,” as well as “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” from 20th Century Fox.

With Disney’s “Secretariat” playing heavily to older auds, “Legend” benefited as the frame’s highest-profile family offering. Toon dropped a mere 36% in its third frame, grossing an estimated $7 million for a domestic cume of $39.4 million.

Adult-driven fare like “The Town” and “Wall Street” also saw surprising holds given similarly targeted pics in the market, with “The Town” totaling $6.4 million in its fourth frame and “Wall Street” grossing $4.6 million in its third. Domestic totals for “The Town” reached an impressive $73.8 million; “Wall Street” has cumed $43.7 million.

On the specialty front, Overture launched “Stone” — the last title to be released under that banner — earning an estimated $73,000 from six locations for a per-screen average of $12,167.

The Metropolitan Opera kicked off its fifth season this weekend with the live transmission of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” grossing $2.3 million on more than 800 screens. Live event was shown on an additional 545 screens in 25 European countries and eight in Latin America. “Rheingold” is the first of 12 transmissions for the Met this season.

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