Box Office Guru Wrapup: America Likes The Social Network

Meanwhile, nobody Let Me In.

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Early Oscar contender The Social Network had many likes this weekend as it took first place in the weekend box office race, while the two other newcomers, Let Me In and Case 39 didn't fare nearly as well.

Following weeks of tremendous buzz and critical raves, Sony's The Social Network led the box office this weekend bringing in an estimated $23M from 2,771 screens for a per screen average of $8,300. The film, which follows the creation of the popular social networking site Facebook through the eyes of those involved, has gotten some of the loudest buzz of any movie of 2010. Already considered an early front-runner in the Oscar race, the tale of Mark Zuckerberg and company opened with around the same numbers as other adult films released this same time of year. Just a few weeks ago The Town opened with $23.8M and an almost identical per screen average. And four years ago another early Oscar heavyweight, The Departed, opened the first weekend of October to $26.9M on its way to a total gross of $132.4M and of course, a Best Picture win. Exit surveys for The Social Network showed the audience was 53% female and 55% were over the age of 25. A solid B+ from Cinemascore shows that so far audiences are enjoying what they're seeing, but only time will tell if the movie can carry this momentum throughout the rest of the year.

Flying into second place were the owls of Ga'Hoole as Legend of the Guardians fell a slim 33%, the best hold in the top 10, to an estimated $10.9M, bringing its total cume to $30. A final gross in the $55-60M range is possible, but is a disappointment considering the rumored $100M budget and additional 3D surcharges. Last weekend's champ Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps crashed 47% in its second weekend, cashing in $10.1M this weekend, according to estimates, for a total so far of $35.9M. Look for a final gross of around $60M, though if Michael Douglas gets any award consideration, it could go a little higher. Another hot Oscar contender, Ben Affleck's The Town held on well in its third lap around the box office track, stealing $10M this weekend, according to estimates, bringing its total so far to $64.3M. With less than $1M separating 2nd, 3rd and 4th place this weekend, the positions could switch when the final numbers come out on Monday.

Fifth place belonged to the well-received comedy Easy A which dipped 34% from last weekend to an estimated $7M bringing its cume to $42.4M. Another comedy landed in sixth place with the Disney release You Again also falling a small 34% in its second outing to $5.5M according to estimates. Its gross stands at $16.4M with a final total in the $30M range likely.

Two new films debuted in seventh and eighth place this weekend, both to highly disappointing results. Currently in seventh with an estimated $5.35M is the long-delayed Renée Zellweger fright flick Case 39 which opened on 2,211 screens for a per screen average of a poor $2,420. Following very close behind was the horror remake Let Me In which opened with an estimated $5.30M from 2,021 theaters, for a per screen average of $2,622. Both films hoped to get an early start on the traditional October horror season, but neither connected with audiences. Even combined their grosses would only be fighting for second place this weekend. Are people saving their money for the three major horror films due out the rest of the month? Or will Wes Craven's My Soul to Take, Paranormal Activity 2 and Saw 3D suffer the same fate at the box office?

Speaking of disappointing horror films, M. Night Shyamalan's Devil fell 44% this weekend to an estimated $3.7M bringing its total to a not-so-scary $27.4M. And rounding out the top 10 was the family film Alpha and Omega which dropped 36% in its third weekend to $3M, according to estimates, bringing its total to $19M.

The top ten films grossed $83.8M which was down 4% from last year when Zombieland opened in the top spot with $24.7M; and down 7% from 2008 when Beverly Hills Chihuahua debuted at number one with $29.3M.