David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” destined to be in the thick of Oscar talk this year, dominated the box office this first weekend in October, taking in $23 million from 2,771 locations.

The PG-13 movie, depicting the founding of Facebook, was met with an almost completely positive response from critics. And it now adds a B+ from audiences, according to exit pollster CinemaScore.

While expectations had placed the film, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, in a zone similar to “The Departed”, or around $27 million for its opening frame, the film’s positive word-of-mouth should bolster its performance in coming weeks. It can be expected to draw in more male and younger audiences and approach “The Departed’s” total domestic gross of $132 million.

The other two new wide releases, horror films “Let Me In” and “Case 39”, did not connect nearly as well with moviegoers.

“Let Me In,” a new take on the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” scored brilliantly with critics, but opened to just $5.3 million, landing it in seventh place for the weekend.

Audiences were less enthusiastic, giving the film directed by J.J. Abrams protege Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) a C+, according to CinemaScore.

“Case 39,” which stars real-life couple Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper and had sat on the shelf at Paramount for some time, was just a hair behind in eighth place, also with an estimated $5.3 million, and actually a better B- score from audiences, according to CinemaScore.

Turns out being the only kid flick at the multiplex can be a hoot, as Zack Snyder’s “Legend of the Guardians” scored a surprisingly good hold to finish at No. 2 in its second weekend. The owl movie fell only 33 percent for a haul of $10.9 million, raising its cume to $30 million.

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” had a steeper drop because of the competition from “Social Network.” The Oliver Stone-directed flick fell 47 percent to $10.1 million. Its cume now stands at $35.9 million for its first 10 days in release.

“The Town” continues to impress. The Boston-set heist drama directed by Ben Affleck dipped only 36 percent in its third weekend in theaters. With another $10 million in the bank, the Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm-starrer has now grossed $64.3 million.

“Easy A” is also holding strong. Falling only 34 percent its third weekend in theaters, the Emma Stone-starrer grossed an estimated $7 million for a new cume of $42.4 million.

“You Again” also held in surprisingly well in its second week after a lackluster debut. It brought in $5.6 million this weekend to finish sixth, a decline of only 34 percent, giving it a new 10-day cume of $16.4 million.

Following the two horror newcomers, the ninth slot went to “Devil”, which grossed $3.7 million. The film from producer M.Night Shyamalan has now earned $27.4 million after three weekends in release.

“Alpha and Omega” landed in 10th place with an estimated $3 million added to its total. The 3-D animated flick from Lionsgate has grossed $19 million after three weeks.

In limited release, Paramount expanded Davis Guggenheim’s public-school indictment “Waiting for Superman” to 34 locations for a three-day box office of $407,000 and a total two-week gross of $600,000.

“Catfish” also expanded to 136 theaters this weekend. The documentary that depicts today’s world of social networking grossed $607,000 for a cume of $1.6 million.

Check back next weekend when the Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel-starrer, “Life as We Know It,” opens opposite Diane Lane’s “Secretariat.”

Source: CNN