It's hard to believe that just a few months ago executives at Paramount Pictures were nervously dreading the opening of "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra." The scuttlebutt was that the film didn't work and director Stephen Sommers, who hasn't made a good movie since the first "Mummy," had delivered another dud.  Well, something clicked in the editing room because "GI Joe" may not have made old media critics happy, but it got the public excited.  Not surprisingly, the action flick is already the biggest hit in Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller's careers as it opened to a very strong $22.3 million on Friday.

International may be a big concern for "GI Joe" where it's expected to not fare as well in countries uninterested in a jingoistic American toy soldier franchise -- no matter how much that theme has been gutted from the movie adaptation.  "GI Joe" wasn't cheap with estimates ranging from $175-200 million.  If that's the case, the picture is going to have to reach $60 million or higher this weekend to have a chance of getting in the black.  Still, it's a big turnaround for what was originally considered one of the duds of the summer.

In second place was the Meryl Streep/Amy Adams "uplifting" comedy "Julie & Julia."  With $7.5 million on Friday, the Nora Ephron picture is looking at between $20-22 million this weekend.  Estimates have the picture's budget at only $40 million (which seems a tad low), so profitability should come easy to this well received flick.

Third place belonged to those amazing talking super agents of "G-Force."  The Jerry Bruckheimer produced kiddie flick made $3 million with an overall gross of $79.3 million so far.  Unless there is a dramatic fall off, Disney is looking at its third $100 million grosser of the summer.

In fourth place and falling hard was Judd Apatow's "Funny People."  The dramedy grossed only $2.6 million on Friday and the picture is looking to find, at best, $8 million for the weekend.  At $35.2 million so far, it is almost guaranteed to be Adam Sandler's first picture not to gross $100 million since Paul Thomas Anderson's drama "Punch Drunk Love" in 2002.  There has to be sincere disappointment on all sides regarding this one.

Fifth place belonged to "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" which has found new life since expanding to IMAX last weekend. The sixth "Harry Potter' found $2.5 million on Friday for a $ 267.5 million cume.  At this point, $290 million isn't an unreasonable finish for the latest Warner Bros. blockbuster.

In other openers, Rogue Picture's well-reviewed thriller "A Perfect Getaway" opened to only $2 million for what should be a $5-6 million weekend.  This is one picture that probably could have benefited from a Fall or Winter release date. 

Another disappointment had to be Overture Film's "Paper Heart." The documentary/romance hybrid found only $74,000 in 38 theaters for an unexpectedly low $1,945 per screen.  After a string of under performers, this will only add to the scuttlebutt that Michael Cera does not open movies.  "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" can't come quick enough for the former "Superbad" star.

On happier news, Fox Searchlight expanded "500 Days of Summer" to 800 theaters and the non-romantic comedy is looking at around $4 million for the weekend and should finish with over $12 million in the bank by the end of the three-day.  Based on word of mouth, "500" is clearly looking at $30 million plus when all is said and done as yet another jewel in Searchlight's crown.

Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.