Sony “likes” The Social Network—and a whole lot of other folks do, too. The movies most folks are calling “the Facebook film” topped the box office this week, snagging $23 million. The bevy of holdovers that followed weren’t within shouting distance of the Jesse Eisenberg-helmed vehicle. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole came in second with $10.8 million, Wall Street:Money Never Sleeps was third with $10.1 million, and The Town stole fourth with $10 million.
The two other new releases this weekend—the universally reviled Case 39 and the intriguing but ignored Let Me In—only scared up enough cash to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, earning about $5.3 million each.
The Social Network performed slightly below expectations, but critics are calling it the first real contender for the 2011 Academy Awards. I get that, to an extent: It’s a crisp, thoughtful piece of cinema that, I think, captures both the excitement and insecurity of the age in which we live. I love some of the techno-baubles we have to play with, but there are days when I feel like the world is an advanced algebra, and I’ve skipped the first two weeks of class. I felt that same vibe after walking out of The Social Network—that only a tiny handful of folks knew how the world was operating these days, and even they were just guessing half the time.
If it does get Oscar consideration, the folks at Sony can be thankful that the awards are given out on the basis of art, rather than historical accuracy. Most folks in the know say the film is, well, “truthy,” but not very true. For instance, the class struggle that forms an undercurrent of the film: angry, socially inept Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg founding the social network because, in part, he felt slighted by Harvard University’s ruling class. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World, says in thedailybeast.com that Zuckerberg was completely disinterested in Harvard’s caste system (a system almost completely dismantled by Zuckerberg’s time anyway, according to Harvard contemporaries), and that Zuckerberg “is one of the least angry people I’ve ever met.”
In some ways, the movie had little choice but to resort to well-placed fiction. Kirkpatrick, for his book interviewed Zuckerberg several times—inside input the movie could not get. Kirkpatrick said that the movie’s makers asked him to consult on the project, but Facebook asked him not to, because they felt the movie (based on the book The Accidental Billionaires) would be filled with inaccuracies. Kirkpatrick declined the film’s consulting offer, and the released film was apparently filled with inaccuracies. But it makes you wonder whether the film would’ve gotten closer to the historic truth—or at least Facebook’s version of said truth—had Kirkpatrick been involved, doesn’t it?