Why is The Social Network Returning to Movie Theaters?

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David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s masterful retelling of what might have gone down in the early days of Facebook is heading back to a theater near you. And the reason why could be as devilish as the machinations that allegedly took place at the birth of the social network.

The Social Network was released to much acclaim and pretty decent box office takings ($93 million in the U.S.) back in September. But with awards season in full swing, culminating as ever with the Oscars next month, it’s time for Sony Pictures to take it up a notch.

(See pictures of Mark Zuckerberg.)

Now that we’re approaching the business end, the case could be made that the studio is putting the movie back in about 600 theaters on January 7 so that it reminds the most important people of them all — sadly, not you, the public but rather the Academy’s thousands of  voters — that The Social Network should very much be in their thoughts come Oscar nominations day on January 25 and then the big show itself on February 27.

Two other factors also come into play: the re-release should ensure that the movie breaks the gold standard that is the $100m barrier at the U.S. box office (this would also guarantee $200 million worldwide with current foreign takings standing at $104 million) and the renewal of buzz will only be enhanced on January 11 when the DVD is released with the obligatory eight hours worth of bonus extras.

And recent history tells us that the plucky story of the little film that could can end up winning Best Picture fame and fortune. The 1999 tale of Miramax’s Shakespeare in Love besting Dreamworks’ Saving Private Ryan should be a case study de nos jours. Despite going up against a major studio, director Steven Spielberg and an all-star cast headed by Tom Hanks, Miramax simply spent millions on ads, which ended up creating a life force of its own. “There were tons of articles that appeared without our generating them,” said Tony Angelotti, an Academy Awards consultant and film publicist. This in turn reflected “a fascination with the subject matter that the media decided they wanted to keep writing about,”Angelotti added.

(See the top 100 movies of all time.)

The last decade saw similar underdog success stories for Million Dollar Baby (2004), winning out over The Aviator and Crash crashing the 2006 Oscar party and getting the nod over Brokeback Mountain. And when you take into account that The Social Network has already won at a slew of award shows, been heralded in many publications as the movie of the year and had a certain magazine decide upon Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as it’s Person of the Year, if you’re involved in the likes of The Kings Speech, The Fighter, True Grit, Black Swan or Inception, you may want to agree as of right now that it’s the competing and not the winning that matters. (via Deadline.com)