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'Red' and 'The Social Network' take long route to success

Two films that have been in theaters for weeks achieve the rare feat of grossing more than four times what they did on their opening weekends.

December 20, 2010

Slow cooking

For two movies that opened more than two months ago, Christmas season marks the end of slow but prosperous runs in theaters.

The Bruce Willis action film "Red" and the Facebook drama "The Social Network" opened two weeks apart in October with similar first-week results. The films both sold about $22-million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada, decent but far from great starts given their production budgets of about $60 million and $40 million, respectively.

The pictures have virtually finished their box office runs and accomplished the rare feat of grossing more than four times what they did on their opening weekends. "Red" stands at an estimated $88.4 million, and "Social Network" has collected $91.9 million.

Typically, movies end up with less than three times their opening-weekend takes. When that number is higher, it indicates the movie has unusually strong word of mouth and an audience that wasn't motivated to rush out as soon as possible.

Summit Entertainment's "Red," which also stars John Malkovich and Helen Mirren in an adaptation of a comic book about a group of aging assassins, appears to have benefited from an audience older than that of a typical action film. Middle-aged adults are less likely than young ones to see a film on opening weekend. Sony Pictures' "Social Network," meanwhile, has drawn a more diverse audience but has slowly become a "must see" film that's now considered a top Oscar contender.

"The Social Network" also passed a milestone overseas this weekend as its foreign gross hit $100.5 million. It's rare for dialogue-heavy American dramas to collect more than $100 million internationally.

—Ben Fritz

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