SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: The following are North American grosses for Friday and weekend and cumes. I won’t bother with a 4-day box office report because Columbus Day in the U.S. and Thanksgiving Day in Canada aren’t statistically significant. (Only 34% of America’s K-12 and 18% of college students are out of school.) Notwithstanding, Sunday will be a strong attendance day and Monday will just be a good day.

1. The Social Network (Sony) Week 2 [2,771 Theaters]
Friday $4.8M, Saturday $6.3M, Weekend $15.5M (-31%), Cume $46.4M

Hollywood could see this was shaping up as a really interesting Columbus Day weekend and a possible 3-way race between Sony’s The Social Network and Warner Bros’ Life As We Know It and Disney’s Secretariat. I was told that if any of these 3 movies could get over $15M, then that pic would win the weekend. But by Friday afternoon, Disney sources already were admitting to me that Secretariat was underperforming, so that pretty much dropped the horse out of the running for No. 1 even if it experienced good expansion Saturday. My box office gurus predicted correctly it should come down to the wire between Life and Social Network, and it did. Life pulled ahead on Date Night because of a higher theater count. But Saturday depended on “how many guys come along” to see Life, one studio exec told me. ”If it’s a modest females-only expansion to $15M, then Social Network has a real shot.” Sony was hoping for less than a -40% drop for Social Network‘s Friday grosses compared to a week ago. Overall, it fell only -31% compared to last weekend. Needless to say, the Culver City execs are jubilant today. ”That’s the best hold for a 2nd weekend (FSS) of any #1 opening this year. Inception was -32%,” a Sony exec gushed to me.

2. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) NEW [3,150 Theaters]
Friday $5M, Saturday $5.6M, Weekend $14.6M

Life As We Know It was always expected to take some of the younger female audience away from Secretariat. The exit polls seemed to demonstrate that. While rom-coms are growing more lame by the minute, Life proved to satisfy audiences with its “A-” Cinemascore. The film always tested in the 90′s ,which is why Warner Bros felt that its sneaks last weekend would help generate positive word of mouth. That seemed to have happened Friday when the pic won the box office only to come in 2nd place for the weekend. So let’s talk about Greg Berlanti who’s come a long way since he created The WB weblet’s Everwood and Jack & Bobby. He’s the executive producer of ABC’s Brothers And Sisters as well as this season’s No Ordinary Family which is now ABC’s most promising new drama, doing respectable business as a self-starter in one of the most competitive time slots. Berlanti’s TV work may not be considered “cool” but Warner Bros has given him some hot film projects: He’s the writer and producer on the studio’s Green Lantern and sequel, and is doing the story for them on The Flash and Clash Of The Titans 2. That said, Warner Bros and Katherine Heigl usually do better box office with rom-coms. I think the turn-off was the kid.

3. Secretariat (Disney) NEW [3,072 Theaters]
Friday $4M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.6M

Rarely have I seen so much snark as there’s been this weekend now that Secretariat came up lame at the box office despite its “A” Cinemascore and PG advantage. But Friday night it hit a West Coast wall, leaving only Saturday for Disney to hope to capture some of the family crowds and see hidden strength in the Heartland. It did overperform in Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Seattle. Attendance skewed older (ages 35+ at 58%) and slightly female (55%). Couples comprised the majority at 67% with families second at 27%. Still the pic underperformed despite last Saturday’s sneak previews around the nation as well as an aggressive 6-week screening program with approximately 250 screenings in the Top 50 markets. (Locations included large churches and military bases.) Disney is known for producing “movies that inspire” (Remember The Titans, Miracle, Invincible, The Rookie) especially with a sports focus. But the majority of those films have opened in the $16M-19M range. Problem is, Disney thought Secretariat could perform like The Blind Side and it didn’t. Good thing the production cost was only low-$30sM. 

All weekend, rival studio execs snarked to me about how the Secretariat marketing campaign was “horrid,” in the words of one. “The only audience interested was old females, but the print and the spots made it look like an action movie. Where was The Blind Side‘s spunky female empowerment, the comedy, the romance?” Criticized another, “I think when you take the beautiful Diane Lane and turn her into a frumpy aged-up woman, you’re flirting with danger. Then there’s the whole horse thing, which is probably second only to boxing in moviegoing ‘who cares?’. Plus, Seabiscuit opened in summer when there was a dearth of adult pictures and it really stood out. This one is awash in a sea of adult movies.” Seabiscuit from Universal opened with $20.8M over the weekend of July 25, 2003, and was considered an underperformer. “I know Seabiscuit worked,” a rival exec tells me, “but Seabiscuit was based on a bestselling book with a real underdog story about an underdog horse. The tables are switched with this story because the horse was dominant but the owner was the underdog. Big difference.”

As for Disney marketing, it’s a weak start for the Rich Ross regime which inherited this movie from predecessor Dick Cook. No one’s impressed yet with Ross’ new marketing czarina MT Carney (who comes across as Ross’ Yes Woman, I hear). And it’s nothing short of bizarre that the studio brought in the despised Valerie Van Galder to help on the Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 campaign. 

4. Legends Of The Guardian (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,225 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $7M, Cume $39.4M

5. My Soul To Take 3D (Rogue Pictures/Universal) NEW [2,572 Theaters]
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $6.9M

More single-digit grosses for Relativity/Rogue (which Universal services) despite horror legend Wes Craven’s return to the genre. He not only directed but wrote the screenplay, his first original in more than 16 years and his first 3D venture. Then again, the box office is crowded with horror flicks after last weekend’s releases of Case 39 and Let Me In, which both performed subpar. I hear the production budget was $25M. Exit polling showed the audience was predominantly female (54%) and 48%/52% under/over age 25.

6. The Town (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,720 theaters]
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.3M, Cume $73.7M

7. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Fox) Week 3 [2,829 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2M, Weekend $4.6M, Cume $43.6M

8. Easy A (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 4 [2,847 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $4.2M, Cume $48.1M

9. Case 39 (Paramount Vantage) Week 2 [2,212 Theaters]
Friday $814K, Saturday $1M, Weekend $2.6M (-50%), Cume $9.6M

10. You Again (Disney) Week 3 [2,332 Theaters]
Friday $750K, Saturday $950K, Weekend $2.4M, Cume $20.7M

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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