A real-life wholesome teen did battle against a fictitious over-the-hill womanizer at the box office over the weekend as "Never Say Never" and "Just Go With It" fought a close contest for bucks. The economy was the real winner, as ticket sales surged overall by more than 30 percent, according to estimates. Disney's CG-animated "Gnomeo & Juliet" rounded out the top three with more than $25 million in revenue.
Justin Bieber's most die-hard Beliebers came out in droves to put the singing sensation's 3-D documentary into the #2 slot with a $30.3 million opening. As of press time, the figure was just a well-coiffed hair away from the estimated $31 million earned by "Just Go With It."
"I feel great," Bieber told MTV News backstage at the Grammys, where the 16-year-old Canadian sensation was both a nominee and a performer, shortly after news of his movie's huge opening hit. "I have so many amazing fans and they've been so supportive over these past few years and will continue to be supportive with my movie. I'm just excited. I have the best fans in the world."
"Never Say Never" was produced by Paramount (which, like MTV, is owned by Viacom). The studio worked tirelessly to activate Bieber's rabid fanbase in support of the movie, which focuses on his rise from obscurity to stardom. Special ticket packages costing $30 per head added an extra $700,000 to the film's opening, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It" opened strongly but will still have some distance to go in order to recoup its estimated $80 million production budget. Set in Hawaii, the romantic comedy-of-misunderstandings co-stars Jennifer Aniston and longtime Sandler pal Nick Swardson ("Grandma's Boy") but suffers from a 19 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, which averages reviews from critics.
And while it may sit atop the box office, "Just Go With It" attracted fewer people opening weekend than recent Sandler flicks like "Grown Ups" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan."
"Gnomeo & Juliet," the other G-rated movie in the top 10 in addition to "Never Say Never," was bolstered by Elton John tunes and voice acting from James McAvoy and Emily Blunt in the title roles.
The only other new film widely released over the weekend was the Roman Army movie "The Eagle," starring Channing Tatum ("G.I. Joe"), which opened at a distant #4 with just $8.6 million.
"Single White Female" retread "The Roommate," starring Leighton Meester of "Gossip Girl" alongside Minka Kelly of "Friday Night Lights," came in at #5 with $8.4 million for a $26 million two-week total. "The Roommate" was made for just $16 million, making that a solid number.
Driven by renewed interest thanks to its multiple Oscar nominations, Best Picture front-runner "The King's Speech" came in at #6 with $8.4 million for a cumulative $93 million total. The English historical drama was made for even less money than "The Roommate" and is closing in on the $100 million mark — a feat commonly reserved for explosion-driven summer blockbusters.
"No Strings Attached" was #7 with $5.6 million. The Natalie Portman/ Ashton Kutcher rom-com has made $59.8 million since it opened four weeks ago. Portman is nominated in the Best Actress category at the Academy Awards for "Black Swan," which was #14 this weekend with $2.1 million. The award-winning art-house flick is even closer to $100 million than "The King's Speech," with $99 million.
"Sanctum" followed "No Strings Attached" at #8 with $5.1 million. Executive produced by James Cameron, "Sanctum" has earned $17.5 million in two weeks with a production budget of $30 million.
Oscar contender "True Grit" and action-comedy "The Green Hornet" rounded out the top 10 with $3.7 million and $3.6 million, respectively. The Coen Brothers remake of the John Wayne Western has made $160 million in the past two months, while co-writer and star Seth Rogen's 3-D version of newspaper-heir-turned-vigilante "The Green Hornet" has made $92 million in the past five weeks.
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