We're less than a week away from the release of The Social Network.  What do you think the film's US box office will be? Are we looking at a $150-million blockbuster?  A $100-million success?  Or a $50-million disappointment?  Post your predictions here or tweet them on Twitter to @augieray with the hashtag #SNBO (for Social Network Box Office), and you could earn not only bragging rights but also receive a free copy of Empowered, signed by best-selling author Josh Bernoff.  You must post your prediction before 8 a.m. PDT on Friday, October 1, and we'll declare a winner on Monday, October 25.  

It seems everyone in the world (or at least everyone in my world) is buzzing about The Social Network.  In case you're living in a cave, The Social Network is the fictionalized story of the founding of Facebook, featuring real-life characters such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. 

The film is generating big buzz for several reasons.  First, early screenings have caused an explosion of Oscar chatter; many reviewers have yet to weigh in, but the film presently has a 100% Tomatometer score.  Second, the movie has an incredible pedigree: Directed by David Fincher, written by Aaron Sorkin, and starring rising stars like Jesse EisenbergRooney Mara and Andrew Garfield, plus an unknown named Justin Timberlake. (I hear he can sing.) Lastly, the buzz over The Social Network has been propelled by talk that it captures today's zeitgeist.  Some say the film is the next The Graduate, a movie that doesn't just reflect but helps define a generation–the good, the bad and the ugly.

Of course, here in the Bay Area–Facebook's backyard–there's also a great deal of speculation about how the movie may affect Facebook.  Already the subject of several mini-revolts over default privacy settings and data sharing, Facebook is a lightning rod for concerns over how social networks use and sell members' data.  Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has made headlines and drawn criticism over some of his pronouncements, such as that privacy is no longer a "social norm."   The portrayal of him in this film isn't likely to assuage critics, and there's speculation that if this film is big–really big–it could alter attitudes toward social networks, motivate people to recheck their Facebook privacy settings, spark Facebook defections, force the social network to play defense and make substantive changes, and possibly cause Zuckerberg to step away as the public face of his own company.

So, what do you think? Are we about to see the launch a megahit? Or will The Social Network play to modest crowds? Over on HSX.com (a virtual stock exchange for movies that once was an addiction of mine), the movie is currently going for $88.65, meaning the HSX community is predicting total U.S. box office of $88.65 million after the movie's first four weekends.  Since adult dramas and biographies are a tough to sell to American audiences (Walk the Line was considered a big hit but still only earned $119 million in the U.S.), I'll predict a U.S. box office of $95 million.  

Post your prediction here or on Twitter, and on Monday, October 25th (after movie's fourth weekend), we'll declare a winner. Big bragging rights are at stake, plus an autographed copy of Empowered.  The book was released a little over a week ago, is getting four-plus-star reviews on Amazon,  and is already #33 (and rising quickly) on Amazon's list of top Management and Leadership – Leadership books. Abbey Klaassen, Executive Editor of Advertising Age, said this book is one of the "all-too-rare category of business books that don’t just tell you what to do but also offer a framework on how to do it." I've read it and can recommend this book to anyone interested in social media marketing or in how social media is changing corporate culture.

Quick summary of rules:

  • You must share your prediction for US Box Office of "The Social Network" between now and 8 am PDT on Friday, October 1st.  Predictions must be posted as a comment to this blog post or on Twitter as a tweet directed to @augieray and containing the hashtag #SNBO .
  • Contest closes on Monday, October 25th based on the Total Gross through the first four weekends as posted on the Box Office Mojo weekend chart
  • Judges' decisions are final.  
  • We'll contact the winner for their address so we can send the grand prize.