'The Social Network' Finds Friends at the Box Office

The Social Network
The Social Network

There's nothing complicated -- or fictional -- about The Social Network's solid opening weekend.

The Aaron Sorkin-penned, David Fincher-directed chronicle about the origins of social networking juggernaut Facebook racked up $23 million in its first weekend. By Hollywood standards, that's not a smashing debut -- analysts had been expecting $25 million -- but considering the film is about a geek who started a website, it's not too shabby.

"We had great reviews, great opening, it worked on all fronts, and we think it's going to be around for a long, long time," Sony distribution honcho Rory Bruer toldUSA Today. Interestingly, women made up 53% of the audience, and 55% of the film's viewers were 25 and older, according to Sony exit data.

Unfamiliar With Internet Culture

The movie has received stellar reviews from mainstream critics -- and garnered early Oscar buzz -- but it has also raised the hackles of some tech-savvy observers.

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Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig laments the filmmakers' failure to understand that Facebook's explosive growth is due as much to the revolutionary platform of the Internet as any particular genius on Mark Zuckerberg's part. Jeff Jarvis views the film as an attack on geeks and entrepreneurs by people who admit, as Sorkin did, that they're unfamiliar with Internet culture. New York magazine's Mark Harris calls it, among other things, an attack by old media against new media.

Virtually everyone agrees the film is well-produced, and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor's soundtrack is hypnotic (Mashable has a great interview with the maestro). With 500 million (Facebook user) potential viewers, this could be just the beginning, and the film should ultimately gross over $100 million.

"Even though it didn't break any records, The Social Network is going to maintain healthy receipts in the weeks to come," Phil Contrino, editor of BoxOffice.com, toldThe New York Times.