“Super 8” Debuts with $37 Million

The J.J. Abrams-Steven Spielberg sci-fi collaboration “Super 8” opened with an estimated $37 million to land atop the North American box office this weekend.

The alien movie was expected to debut in the $20 million-$30 million range, but strong word of mouth following Thursday’s sneak-peak previews and an overall positive critics review helped the film defy the forecast. Directed by Abrams of “Alias” and “Lost” fame, “Super 8” features a young cast led by newcomer Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, the 13-year-old younger sister of actress Dakota Fanning. Spielberg is credited as producer of the $50-million film.

Last week’s box-office champ, “X-Men: First Class,” dropped to second place with $25 million to push its North American total to $98.9 million.” “The Hangover Part II” remained strong in its third week as it added $18.5 million at third place. “Hangover Part II” now has over $216 million in earnings, making it the top grosser in the North American box office this year.

Rounding out the top five were “Kung Fu Panda 2” ($16.6 million) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” ($10.8 million).