LOS ANGELES, March 26 Justin Timberlake's first album since 2006 made a bumper U.S. debut, selling an unexpectedly better 968,000 copies in the first week since its release, according to figures on Tuesday from Nielsen SoundScan.
"The 20/20 Experience" gave Timberlake, 32, the top spot on this week's Billboard 200 album chart and marked the singer's best solo effort yet.
The heavily-promoted release from the former N'Sync boy band singer had been expected to sell about 750,000 copies in its first week.
But after warm reviews and fan fever, the album sold almost 300,000 copies more than the first week sales for Timberlake's last release - 2006's hit album "FutureSex/LoveSounds" - despite an overall decline in album sales in recent years.
"The 20/20 Experience" marks Timberlake's musical comeback after focusing on his movie career in films like "The Social Network" and "Friends with Benefits," launching his own record label, investing in social networking website MySpace, and marrying actress Jessica Biel.
Despite the big first week, Timberlake came in below country-pop singer Taylor Swift's debut in November 2012 when her "Red" album sold 1.2 million copies in its first week.
Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" was released on RCA Records, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment.
This week's full Billboard 200 album chart will be released on Wednesday. (Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao)