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your box office explained

Your Box Office Explained: The Social Network Hangs On

This Weekend's Winners: Fittingly enough, Sony’s The Social Network continues to be powered by social media and its precursor, word of mouth. David Fincher’s film took in $15.5 million and continues to hold its ground, dipping by less than a third (down only 31 percent from last weekend).

Honorable Mention: Disney’s Secretariat made only $12 million and change — three million bucks less than the studio’s own expected $15 million — but in the Facebook-powered world we live in, its generally positive reviews could help it hold up.

The Weekend’s Losers: Wes Craven’s return from semi-retirement shows the director has a bright future behind him: Rogue Pictures My Soul to Take took in only a spectral $6.9 million.

Dishonorable Mention: Warner Bros.' Life As We Know It isn't so expensive that a $14.6 million first weekend is a disaster — but last we checked, isn't Katherine Heigl supposed to be the next Julia Roberts?

How it all went down: Katherine, Katherine, Katherine. Katie. What can we say? There, there. Maybe the problem isn’t your image — maybe it’s that you’re just not as big a star as we thought. Maybe you’re, like, TV big. Not movie big. Because days of your movies opening in the $20 million-plus range seem to be fading fast. And maybe that’s not so bad: Life As We Know It cost about half of what Killers did, it may do just fine in the end — because it’s not what you make; it’s what you keep, right?

Maybe Hollywood needs to stop asking so much of you. (On the other hand, you might need to lower that $17 million per picture quote, right?) For if Life As We Know It was meant to work as broad, date-night fodder, it failed almost as spectacularly as Disney’s Secretariat succeeded: Nearly two-thirds of the 1973 Triple Crown winner’s audience was made up of couples. Despite offering a revisionist American social history — Vietwhere? Nixonwho? Waterwhat? — seemingly bio-engineered by Randall Wallace for the same social conservatives and evangelicals who lapped up The Blind Side, only a quarter of Secretariat's audience was "family."

Meanwhile, Focus Features’ Zach Galifianakis mental-hospital melodrama It’s Kind of a Funny Story grossed $2 million in just about 750 theaters, owing to an almost entirely older audience (80 percent over 35). But it’s too early to tell how well it'll do until Focus "platforms" the release into additional markets next weekend.

Finally, the specialty market has been on fire, powered by hot docs: This weekend, Waiting for Superman nearly tripled its screen presence to cross the million-dollar threshold (current gross: $1.4 million) with a $600,000 haul, while Catfish added only dozen screens and still swam past the two million-dollar mark (current gross: $2.2 million). By comparison, Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger more than doubled its screens, but its grosses increased by less than a third.

Photo: Sony