"The Social Network," near-universally hailed as one of the best - if not the best - movies of the year, will have it's Midnight shows about 4 hours from now and then be in wide-release a few hours after that. It's a big movie based on a ripped-from-the-headlines story from a superstar directorwith stellar reviews and a cast of rising stars (the kid from "Zombieland," another kid from "Gossip Girl," the biggest male pop-star in music and the next Spider-Man,) so you'd think it'd be a garaunteed hit, right?
Honestly, I dunno...
As I may have mentioned once or twice before, the "downer story" of Summer 2010 - and maybe 2010 in general - has been the visible backlash of mainstream audience against the pop-culture omnipresence of "nerd culture."
Not necessarily a backlash against "smart" movies, I stress - "Inception" certainly proved that you can draw a comfortable contingent of even the sad excuses for functioning humanity currently overflowing the American moviegoing audience to a brain-twister... providing you've got a trailer's worth of gunfights, Leonardo DiCaprio and "The Director of The Dark Knight" to lure them in. I'm talking about the genuine sense of mainstream-culture rejection of material and/or characters percieved to be from the outer-edges of "nerdity;" i.e. the lukewarm reception of "Kick-Ass" and the outright hostility that greeted "Scott Pilgrim" (in that regard, you can toss the bizzare level of hatred that's built up against Michael Cera on the list, too.) "Network," or course, is 100% a creature of "nerd-culture" - a story of nerds engaged in the ultra-nerd world of computer programming and website building.
You don't need to be a Gallup pollster to look out at the American cultural landscape right now and see that we're in the midst of a HUGE flare-up of anti-intellectualism at the moment - look at the frighteningly-pervasive influence of the so-called "Tea Party," with it's delusional romanticism of "ordinary joe" Americana and it's open hatred of the non-traditional and/or the knowledge-oriented (aka "LIBERAL ELITISTS!!!") And hatred of "nerds" is the evolutionary starting-point for anti-intellectualism in general - the hatred of the non-traditional, resentment of the above-average, and the rage upon realizing that they're often one and the same. It's a zeitgeist thing, in other words... when asked, "what kind of world is it where Sarah Palin or this new cretin from Delaware can be seriously considered for high office?," my answer is "the kind of world where 'The Expendables' sells $250 Million worth of tickets, and 'Transformers' does even better than that."
Maybe that's a reach, or seeing connections where none exist, but I'm not inclined to think so. But even going back to main point, just think about it: Audiences didn't turn out to see a socially-awkward uber-nerd engage in video-game martial-arts duels - who really expects them to turn out to see another socially-awkward uber-nerd make a website, get rich and get sued?
Here's hoping I'm wrong, all the same.