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Box Office: Bieber No. 1 With Big $12.3M Friday

Paramount’s teenybopper concert film is on pace for huge $30M weekend; Sony’s Sandler comedy is second with $9.7M

Saturday update:

Never say never, baby … oh baby.

Paramount's quickly-slapped-together Justin Bieber 3D concert movie "Never Say Never" had a solid debut at the domestic box office Friday, pushing aside pre-release tracking forecasts that were all over the map and grossing a big $12.3 million on its first day.

The $13 million teenebopper-targeted film is on pace to exceed $30 million for the weekend, a total that would rival the big $31.5 million start for Disney's Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert film three years ago.

Sony's Adam Sandler romantic comedy "Just Go With It" came in second, grossing $9.7 million. The PG-13-rated film, which co-stars Jennifer Aniston, is projected by its studio to make in the high-$20 million range for the weekend — a forecast it'll probably match.

However, most tracking firms predicted a first-weekend gross of more than $30 million for the poorly reviewed "Just Go With It."

The film cost Sony about $80 million to produce, according to published reports.

In third place, Disney's CG-animated "Gnomeo & Juliet" grossed a solid $6.1 million, taking advantage of the fact that it's the first kid-targeted movie to enter the market in about two months.

The G-rated movie is expected to defy tracking forecast and exceed $20 million for the weekend.

Unable to defy the gravity of its tracking, however, Focus' Roman-warrior-themed "The Eagle" starring Channing Tatum got off to a soft $2.7 million start Friday, matching downer forecasts of around $6 million-$8 million.

The film cost only around $25 million to make.

Here's the complete top 10:

"Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" ($12.3m)
"Just Go With It" ($9.7m)
"Gnomeo & Juliet" ($6.1m)
"The Roommate" ($2.6m)
"The Eagle" ($2.7m)
"The King's Speech" ($1.9m)
"Sanctum" ($1.4m)
"True Grit" ($953k)
"The Green Hornet" ($888k)

More to come…

Thursday preview:

Never say never … unless you're predicting that a Justin Bieber 3D concert movie is going to beat an Adam Sandler romantic comedy at the weekend box office.

That ain't gonna happen.

Sandler's latest Sony comedy, the PG-13-rated "Just Go With It," is being projected by tracking firms to open to over $30 million at the domestic box office this weekend, with Paramount's "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" finishing a distant second with projected grosses that vary widely.

Early awareness levels led some box-office watchers to conclude that the quickly assembled Bieber movie could approach the $31.1 million total acheived by the February 2008 opening of Disney's "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour."

The more downer comparison would be the Jonas Brothers' 3D concert movie in 2009, which opened to only $12.5 million.

Two other movies open widely this weekend: Disney's kiddie targeted "Gnomeo and Juliet" and Focus' Channing Tatum-led Roman Army action film "The Eagle."

Also, Fox Searchlight will start out the Miguel Arteta R-rated ensemble comedy — which stars Rob Corddry, Anne Heche, Ed Helms, John C Reilly and Sigourney Weaver — in 15 locations.

Advanced ticket sales for Bieber's "Never Say Never" are lagging way behind "Hanna Montana," however, and the film could end up opening to less than $20 million.

"The tracking is all over the place," said a rival-studio offical. "But I don't think Paramount is where they expected to be."

Wherever Paramount ends up on it, the film's $13 million plus-or-minus production cost shouldn't put it in the red on this.

"Just Go With It," meanwhile, is projected to continue a string of $30 million-plus openings for Sandler which has stayed largely uninterruped over the last decade, save for more dramatic efforts like 2009's "Funny People."

The comic actor has had success opening films on Valentine's Day weekend, with 2004's "50 First Dates" premiering to $39.9 million.

His "Grown Ups" opened to $40.5 million for Sony last summer.

As for Disney's long-gestating "Gnomeo," the G-rated film is projected to take in just under $20 million, buoyed by the fact that there hasn't been a kid-targeted movie released since Warner's "Yogi Bear" back in mid-December.

Focus' "Eagle," meanwhile, is tracking to bring in $6 million-$8 million this weekend, with the film costing around $25 million to make.