Image Credit: Merrick MortonDavid Fincher’s The Social Network, destined to be in the thick of Oscar talk this year, dominated the box office this first weekend in October, taking in $23 million from 2,771 locations. The PG-13 rated movie depicting the controversial founding of Facebook was met with an almost completely positive response from critics, and now adds a B+ from audiences, according to exit pollster CinemaScore. While expectations had placed the film starring Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield in a zone similar to The Departed, or around $27 million for its opening frame, the film’s positive word of mouth should bolster its performance in coming weeks, when it can be expected to draw in more male and younger audiences and approach The Departed’s total domestic gross of $132 million.

The other two new wide releases, horror films Let Me In and Case 39, did not connect nearly as well with moviegoers. Let Me In, a new take on the Swedish film Let the Right One In, scored brilliantly with critics, but opened to just $5.3 million, landing it in seventh place for the weekend. Audiences were less enthusiastic, giving the film directed by J.J. Abrams protege Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), who recently met with Christopher Nolan about Superman, a C+, according to CinemaScore. Case 39, which stars real-life couple Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper and had sat on the shelf at Paramount for some time, was just a hair behind in eighth place, also with an estimated $5.3 million, and actually a better B- score from audiences, according to CinemaScore.

Turns out being the only kid flick at the multiplex can be a hoot, as Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians scored a surprisingly good hold to finish at No. 2 in its second weekend. The Owl movie fell only 33 percent for a haul of $10.9 million, raising its cume to $30 million. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps had a steeper drop-off due to the competition from Social Network. The Oliver Stone-directed flick fell 47 percent to $10.1 million. Its cume now stands at $35.9 million for its first ten days in release.

The Town continues to impress. The Boston-set heist drama directed by Ben Affleck dipped only 36 percent in its third weekend in theaters. With another $10 million in the bank, the Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm-starrer has now grossed $64.3 million. Easy A isalso holding strong. Falling only 34 percent its third weekend in theaters, the Emma Stone-starrer grossed an estimated $7 million for a new cume of $42.4 million.

You Again also held in surprisingly well in its second week following a lackluster debut. It brought in $5.6 million this weekend to finish sixth, a decline of only 34 percent, giving it a new ten-day cume of $16.4 million. Following the two horror newcomers, the ninth slot went to Devil, which grossed $3.7 million. The film from producer M.Night Shyamalan has now earned $27.4 million after three weekends in release. Alpha and Omega landed in tenth place with an estimated $3 million added to its total. The 3-D animated flick from Lionsgate has grossed $19 million after three weeks.

In limited release, Paramount expanded Davis Guggenheim’s public-school indictment Waiting for Superman to 34 locations for a three-day box office of $407,000 and a total two-week gross of $600,000. Catfish also expanded to 136 theaters this weekend. The documentary that depicts today’s world of social networking grossed $607,000 for a cume of $1.6 million.

Check back next weekend when the Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel-starrer Life As We Know It opens opposite Diane Lane’s Secretariat.