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The Social Network did solid, if unspectacular business this weekend on its way to capturing the number one spot on America’s box office chart. If you bought a ticket to see it in one of the major cities on the American coasts though, New York or LA for instance, you might have expected more. You probably encountered packed out crowds, maybe even sold out showings. So why didn’t it do even better than $23 million? Because middle America isn’t interested.
Despite rave reviews, incredibly positive audience feedback, and a marketing campaign so successful that the trailer has gone viral and spawned an unending string of parody videos like this one, Deadline says people in the middle of the country didn’t buy in. Their studio sources tell them that the majority of the movie’s $23 million take came from the east and west coasts, in particular from people in big cities.
What’s going on? This is a movie about the founding of Facebook after all, and Facebook is pretty heavily used everywhere. Facebook is not a big city internet site. But maybe to some this seemed like a movie about elitist Harvard rich kids running around in expensive shirts. Or that’s probably how it seems in the trailers. Maybe that turned them off? Or maybe The Social Network is a movie which should have started as one of those coastal city limited releases, which only spreads to the middle of the country after it’s had a lot of time to build word of mouth.
I suspect the rest of the country will start to catch on in coming weeks as they give in to the positive feedback from those who’ve seen it, and realize that the movie is more than they believe it to be. This could actually be really good news for The Social Network, since there’s still a lot of audience out there to be had, an audience which may wake up and start buying tickets in the coming weeks to keep it on top of the charts.