Francois Duhamel
John Young
June 11, 2011 AT 06:58 PM EDT

On a scale of 10, Super 8 pretty much scored an eight by collecting $12.2 million on Friday, according to early estimates. (It also grossed $1 million on Thursday from Twitter-publicized screenings at 324 theaters.) The sci-fi adventure, directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, was never expected to leave the train station with huge numbers, with industry insiders predicting a $30 million opening. But Super 8 is now on track for a debut of about $34 million. The PG-13 movie will likely fall a bit short of the opening gross of the 2008 Abrams-produced monster flick Cloverfield, which gobbled up $40.1 million its first weekend. But for a $50 million film starring a mostly no-name cast, this is still a solid start.

The big question remains how Super 8 will hold up in the weeks to come. Cloverfield, which similarly featured a creature that the advertising campaign chose to keep secret, dropped 68 percent its second weekend. Will the well-reviewed Super 8 follow suit once its mysteries have been revealed? Worth noting is the fact that, according to Paramount, 71 percent of the film’s audience was at least 25 years old. That may suggest that older moviegoers are in sync with the movie’s Spielbergian nostalgia — the story’s set in a small Ohio town during 1979 and follows a group of filmmaking kids — while younger moviegoers are taking a wait-and-see approach.

In second place, X-Men: First Class fell a somewhat alarming 65 percent for $7.6 million. The mutant action film is on pace for a $25 million weekend, which would give it a two-week total of about $99 million. By comparison, the prior four X-Men movies had accumulated an average of $138 million by their second weekends. The Hangover Part II dropped 46 percent for $5.7 million, while Kung Fu Panda 2 slipped only 28 percent for $4.6 million. In fifth, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides plundered $3.1 million. Both Pirates and Hangover Part II crossed the $200 million mark on Friday.

The week’s other new release, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, debuted in seventh place with $2.2 million on Friday. The PG-rated children’s film, which is based on a popular book series but received unflattering reviews, will finish the weekend with about $6 million. And Woody Allen’s comedy Midnight in Paris, which expanded nationwide to 944 theaters, grossed $1.6 million on Friday. Check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. Super 8 — $12.2 mil

2. X-Men: First Class — $7.6 mil

3. The Hangover Part II — $5.7 mil

4. Kung Fu Panda 2 — $4.6 mil

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — $3.1 mil

Box office preview: Super 8 will win, but by how much?

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