Super 8

At the box office 'Super 8' could have been a train wreck the size of the one in the movie, or it could have been a monster hit the size of... Anyway, it was neither. The film debuted in first place (which was expected) with an estimated $37.0 million from Friday to Sunday (which was a little better than expected).

Given the secrecy of the J.J. Abrams movie's marketing campaign (which took pains not to reveal the nature of the monster, à la the Abrams-produced 'Cloverfield'), its complicated premise (both monster flick and nostalgic homage to a childhood spent making home movies and watching Steven Spielberg films) and its lack of star power, it was hard for industry experts to guess how well 'Super 8' would open.

On the plus side: a wide opening on 3,379 screens (including several IMAX venues with surcharges), generally strong reviews, and fanboy fondness for both Abrams and Spielberg, who produced the movie. Predictions had 'Super 8' opening in the low 30s. Not only did the movie do better than that, but a handful of early Thursday screenings, cross-promoted on Twitter to help improve word-of-mouth, added another $1 million or so to the weekend's take, for a four-day total of $38.0 million.