LOS ANGELES — Baseball has scored a rare hit in Hollywood, while another American institution — Tom Cruise — has delivered his latest hit overseas.
The Jackie Robinson tale “42” took in $27.3 million to claim the weekend box-office championship domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The film has yet to open overseas, where the sport is a harder sell. But Cruise knocked it out of the park with a $61.1 million international launch in 52 countries for his sci-fi thriller “Oblivion.”
That bodes well for the domestic debut of “Oblivion” next Friday. The film stars Cruise as a workman on a devastated future Earth who lands in a battle with aliens.
If “Oblivion” packs in comparable domestic crowds, it will help maintain the action-star momentum Cruise regained with 2011’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” That return to box-office luster came after some fitful years that followed odd turns in his personal life, culminating with the breakup of his marriage to Katie Holmes last year.
Released by Warner Bros., “42” easily beat the domestic start of an established franchise in “Scary Movie 5.” The Weinstein Co. sequel opened in second-place with $15.2 million, the smallest debut for the horror-comedy series.
Three of the previous four “Scary Movie” installments had debuts of $40 million or more.
On the other hand, “42” outdid the usual expectations for baseball movies, which usually do modest business at best. Box-office trackers had expected “42” to pull in less than $20 million.
The previous weekend’s top draw, Sony’s horror remake “Evil Dead,” tumbled to No. 5 with $9.5 million, raising its domestic haul to $41.5 million.
The $27.3 million opening for “42” is a record for a baseball flick in terms of straight dollars, topping the $19.5 million debut of “Moneyball” in 2011. Factoring in higher ticket prices, the $13.7 million debut of 1992’s “A League of Their Own” would have been on par with “42” in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars.
The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers boss Branch Rickey, who brought No. 42 onto the team in 1947 as the Major Leagues’ first black player.
“It’s a story that has so much emotion to it. Jackie Robinson’s life had such an influence on our country,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., who noted that all Major League players will wear No. 42 on Monday for Jackie Robinson Day, the 66th anniversary of his Dodgers debut. “Think of what a tribute that is for what he accomplished. Every player wearing 42 on his back.”
With generally good reviews, “42” drew in older crowds, with 83 percent of the audience over 25, Fellman said.