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SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Here are weekend North American box office numbers:

1. Knowing (Summit) OPENER [3,332 Theaters] Wkd $24.8M
2. I Love You, Man (DW/Paramount) OPENER [2,711] Wkd $18M
3. Duplicity (Universal) OPENER [2,575] Wkd $14.4M
4. Witch Mountain (Disney) Week 1 [3,187] Wkd $13M, $44.7M
5. Watchmen (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,510] Wkd $6.7M, $98M
6. Last House (Rogue/Uni) Week 2 [2,403] Wkd $5.9M, Cume $24M
7. Taken (Fox) Week 8 [2,661] Wkd $4.1M, Cume $133.1M
8. Slumdog Millionaire (Fox SL) Week 19 [2,067] Wkd $2.7M, Cume $137.2M

FRIDAY 10:45 PM: There are many questions waiting to be answered at the North American box office this weekend with 3 newcomers and 1 holdover spoiler at first glance. The top 3 were supposed to run in the $23M-$18M range thanks to great TV ads and marketing prowess. But how will March Madness lower the grosses for DreamWorks / Paramount’s well-reviewed laffer I Love You, Man among younger males and females on Date Night? (The R-rated Paul Rudd starrer has been running ahead of Role Models all day.) Can older males and females alone make Summit Entertainment’s cheezy actioner Knowing the No. 1 movie even though it stars Nicolas Cage? (The PG-13 pic is playing in 600+ more theaters, and Cage was cast primarily for his overseas appeal.) Have women really been craving Julia Roberts’ comeback in the smug thriller Duplicity from Universal. (Or Clive Owen as her leading man, especially when his similar corporate conspiracy movie The International bombed last month.)

By Friday night, it was clear that Knowing would rule the box office Friday and for the weekend. And despite decent reviews, Duplicity‘s numbers looked soft, for probably only a $14M weekend, when Hollywood and even the studio expected $18+M. Playing the spoiler could be Disney’s PG pairing of alien kids with Dwayne Johnson, Race To Witch Mountain, which is screening in 600+ more venues. It’s having an unexpectedly good hold because close to 20% of K-12th grade schoolkids are on vacation and may pass Duplicity for No. 3. It’s clear from Friday grosses that Robert’s toothsome appeal has worn thin. (“If I see that laugh in one more spot for this movie, I may break my TV,” one rival studio exec snarked to me.) You have to go back to Julia’s 2003 chick flick Mona Lisa Smile to find a comparable underperformer. (Not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices, that pic opened to $11.5M for a domestic total of $63.8M. Her hit movies with a long tail at the domestic box office debuted to at least $21.6+M.)  And the low-cost I Love You, Man did respectably for an R-rated pic and snagged a Cinemascore of B+. Whereas Duplicity received a C.

FRIDAY 5:30 PM: At first, there were way too many variables out there to make any definitive forecasts, and my experts certainly won’t based just on today’s matinees which are notoriously unreliable anyway. Early Friday guesstimates looked very much in line with my Twitter reports from Wednesday. But I now suspect any 1-2-3 order for the trio of openers — KnowingI Love You, ManDuplicity — isn’t going to hold by Sunday.

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Knowing (Summit) OPENER [3,332 Theaters] Weekend estimate $23M
2. I Love You, Man (DreamWorks/Paramount) OPENER [2,711] Wkd est $20+M
3. Witch Mountain (Disney) Week 1 [3,187] Wkd est $17M
4. Duplicity (Universal) OPENER [2,575] Wkd est $14M
5. Watchmen (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,510] Wkd est $8.5M

FRIDAY AM: Weekend estimates by my box office gurus are looking like:

1. Knowing (Summit) OPENER [3,332 Theaters] Weekend Estimate $25M
2. I Love You, Man (DreamWorks/Paramount) OPENER [2,711] Wkd Est $20M
3. Duplicity (Universal) OPENER [2,575] Wkd Est $17M