Tomorrow, Major League Baseball will celebrate its annual Jackie Robinson Day, and all players and umpires will wear jerseys with the number 42, which Robinson, the first African-American player in the MLB, made famous. Don’t be surprised if the execs at Warner Bros. join in on the fun. The studio did have a grand slam weekend, after all.
Warner Bros.’ new baseball drama 42 topped the box office with $27.3 million – far ahead of recent baseball titles like Moneyball ($19.5 million debut) and Trouble with the Curve ($12.2 million). In fact, 42 scored the best ever debut for a baseball film, surpassing The Benchwarmers’ $19.7 million bow. 42 also became the latest release to earn a rare “A+” CinemaScore grade, signifying exemplary word-of-mouth among ticket-buyers. Former “A+” releases include The Help, Tangled, The Blind Side, Titanic, and A Few Good Men.
42, which was produced by Legendary Pictures for $40 million, stars newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, as well as Harrison Ford as MLB exec Branch Rickey. The film played exceedingly well with older moviegoers (59 percent of audience members were above the age of 35) and African-American crowds (all ten of 42’s top theaters were in urban markets). According to Warner Bros., a surprisingly high 52 percent of the opening weekend crowd was female.
If history is any indication, 42 will keep running around the bases for a long time to come. Like fellow “A+” films The Help and The Blind Side, which also deal with racial issues, 42 should earn a terrific multiplier and finish well above $100 million. Warner Bros. says it plans on expanding the film from its already-wide 3,002 theater count next weekend.
In second place, Scary Movie 5 hit more of a bunt than a home run during its opening frame. The spoof sequel nabbed an unremarkable $15.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period from 3,402 theaters, a low-point for the 13-year-old franchise. Part of the reason for Scary Movie 5’s sub-par performance may have to do with the fact that it arrived in theaters a full seven years after Scary Movie 4, which earned $40.2 million in its opening weekend in 2006. That’s quite a long break for a youth-targeting franchise like Scary Movie.
The film stars High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale, as well as tabloid-magnets Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen in supporting roles. (Hey, at least this did better than Lohan’s last starring effort!) Those casting stunts weren’t enough to drum up interest in the wretchedly-reviewed sequel, though. Scary Movie 5, which Weinstein/Dimension spent $20 million to produce, drew less interest than similar horror spoof A Haunted House, which scared up an $18.1 million opening in January – against a $1.5 million budget no less! Audiences issued Scary Movie 5 a “C-” CinemaScore grade.
Fox’s hit animated family film The Croods dropped by a slightly larger-than-expected 36 percent in its fourth weekend to $13.2 million. The $135 million caveman comedy has now earned $142.5 million domestically, and may finish its run with about $180 million. Overseas, The Croods has earned an additional $207 million, making it a big winner for Fox Animation.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation dipped 48 percent to $10.8 million this weekend, bringing its total to $102.4 million after three weekends. While the film is running behind its predecessor domestically and won’t match G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’s $150.2 million total, it’s making up ground overseas, where it has earned $168.3 million – ahead of Cobra’s $152.3 million international finish. Paramount, MGM, and Skydance spent $130 million on the sequel.
Rounding out the Top 5 was last weekend’s champ, Evil Dead, which plummeted 63 percent to $9.5 million. Due to Evil Dead’s built-in cult audience, much of which came to the theater on opening day, a large drop was expected. After ten days, the $17 million production from Sony’s TriStar, Film District, and Ghost House Productions, has earned $41.5 million and may finish with about $55 million overall.
1. 42 – $27.3 million
2. Scary Movie 5 – $15.2 million
3. The Croods – $13.2 million
4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – $10.8 million
5. Evil Dead – $9.5 million
In limited release, the Ryan Gosling/Bradley Cooper drama The Place Beyond the Pines successfully expanded into 514 theaters, where it grossed $4.1 million, good for a strong $7,937 location average. Danny Boyle’s latest, Trance, wasn’t as fortunate. The film moved from four to 438 theaters this weekend, but could only manage a $925,000 frame, yielding a weak $2,112 average. Expect the former film to continue its expansion, while the latter may have trouble convincing tehater owners to take it on board.
Internationally, the Tom Cruise thriller Oblivion had a terrific debut with $61.1 million from 52 territories, 48 of which it won. Oblivion’s strongest markets included Russia ($8.6 million), the U.K. and Ireland ($7.9 million), and France ($3.9 million). The Universal sci-fi adventure opened in the same range as Oz The Great and Powerful, which conjured a $69.9 million international bow and has now grossed $251.6 million overseas. The film opens stateside next weekend.
Check back to EW next weekend for coverage of Oblivion’s domestic bow, and follow me on Twitter at @gradywsmith for more box office conversation throughout the week.