Proving that combined starpower can still overcome bad reviews, "Couples Retreat" had a massive Friday at the box office with over $12.3 million in receipts.   The couples comedy in paradise drew on stars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell and Kristen  Davis to gross the biggest Friday take since "Inglourious Basterds" made $14 million on Aug. 21. How much "Retreat" will end up with for the weekend will depend on whether the comedy has enough good word of mouth to avoid a Friday-Saturday drop.  At this point, anywhere from $30-32 million is possible for the three-day frame.

No matter what the final outcome, the opening is a huge boost to distributor Universal Studios which has had a tough run of late with bombs "Love Happens," "A Perfect Getaway" and disappointments "Funny People" and "Land of the Lost." On a more optimistic note, the studio has high hopes for the thriller "The Fourth Kind" next month.

In other eye-popping news, "Paranormal Activity" grossed $2.5 million Friday for what should be $6 million over the three-day frame.  That doesn't should like much, but the low budget thriller is only playing in 159 theaters compared to "Retreat's" 3,000.  If that estimate holds, "Activity" would be looking at an eye-popping $37,000 or so per theater average.  What happens  next weekend is anyone's guess, but it appears "Where the Wild Things Are," which is tracking very strongly, will have some major competition for the top spot.

Among this week's holdovers, "Zombieland" fell only 50% for a $4.8 million Friday and what should be a $15 million or so weekend. With close to $50 million 10 days out, no one at Sony Pictures will be complaining, (especially since the well-reviewed comedy only cost $23 million) but they were probably hoping for a better drop.  What seemed like a likely $100 million grosser is now looking at $80-90 million total at best so don't scratch in that sequel yet.

In third place, "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" continued it's strong run with another $3.1 million and what should be a $10-12 million weekend.  "Cloudy" should pass the $100 million mark next week which is a significant achievement for Sony Animation.  It also becomes the fourth animated movie to pass that threshold this year alongside "Up," "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs."

Ironically, fourth place went to the re-release of the films that ushered in the era of CG animation, "Toy Story/Toy Story 2 in 3D."  In theaters for only two weeks, the double feature found another $2 million on Friday for what should be an $8-9 million weekend.  

Look for final weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.