Weekend Wrap-Up for October 8-10, 2010

Network Leads Soft Box Office

By John Hamann

October 10, 2010

Lisbeth Salander gonna kick his ass.

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It was crowded at the top of the box office this weekend, but not in a good way. A soft set of formulaic openers faced off against the second weekend of The Social Network, which was looking to hold well this weekend. Debuting films this weekend included Life As We Know It, starring one of my non-faves, Katherine Heigl; Secretariat, the horse-race film Disney was hoping would replicate The Blind Side (no Bullock equals no Blind Side, in this man's opinion); and Wes Craven's My Soul to Take, the Scream director's first time back behind the camera since 2005's Red Eye.

Things could change when actual numbers come out tomorrow, but for now, our number one film of the weekend is The Social Network, repeating at number one. After an apathetic opening weekend where the David Fincher helmed drama earned $22.4 million, the Oscar hopeful needed to hold decently to keep its award momentum going. A 50% drop would have been devastating. With the repeat at number one, a second weekend gross of $15.5 million, and a weekend drop of only 31%, The Social Network will have the box office cache to compete with the big boys at the Oscars this year. For all of you clamoring about The Hurt Locker's box office and how it beat Avatar on Oscar night, I think it was a David vs Goliath situation, with people voting for the underdog (and Academy members didn't want to listen to James Cameron's acceptance speech). The Social Network got lucky, as it faced two softies over its second weekend, but watch – the “Network repeats at number one” stories will be all over the media. I see the Jesse Eisenberg drama taking in about $80 million domestically in the end, or about twice its $40 million budget. It currently sits with $46 million.


Finishing second is Life As We Know It, the new "found a baby" rom-com from Warner Bros. The opening weekend is just as blah as the concept for this one, Life As We Know It earned $14.6 million from 3,150 venues. The Katherine Heigl flick was number one on Friday, but fell back over Saturday and Sunday. Still, if estimates are off, it could come back to take top spot tomorrow (probably not, though). It had a venue average of $4,646. The opening is akin to other blah rom-coms released over the last few years, like The Back Up Plan ($12.2 million opening), When in Rome ($12.4 million opening), and Made of Honor ($14.8 million opening). This is typical October filler, and didn't carry a lot of risk. Life cost $38 million for Warner Bros. to make, and was co-financed with Village Roadshow.

Not surprisingly, critics hated Life As We Know It. The rom-com grabbed 104 reviews at RottenTomatoes at the time of this writing, and only 30 were positive, giving this one a fresh rating of 29%. Katherine Heigl needs a hit in a big way. Life As We Know It follows in the steps of the awful Killers, which also under-performed in June of this year. Killers opened to $15.8 million and topped out at $47 million, despite having a lucrative June release date. Heigl has never been close to my heart, as she has a tendency to dump on projects that have made her successful - Knocked Up and Grey's Anatomy being just two examples. The marketing of Life As We Know It seemed to be more about remastering Heigl's image. Maybe it will help her next release, One For the Money, where she plays a lingerie buyer who turns into a bounty hunter. Heigl's name is the only one above the title on that one and she also produces, so her career could be on the line.

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