'42,' starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, was No. 1 at the box office this weekend.(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
(USA TODAY) -- 42 scored the largest debut on record for a baseball film this weekend, coasting to the top of the box office and an easy win over Scary Movie V.
The drama about Jackie Robinson collected $27.3 million, according to studio estimates from box office trackers Hollywood.com.
The opening was $10 million more than most analysts' expectations and gave the Harrison Ford film a decisive victory over the latest parody. Scary did $15.2 million.
Some forecasters expected Scary to top the box office, as it drew a younger audience.
But 42 won over critics and fans alike. The drama got a thumbs-up from 76% of reviewers, according to Rottentomatoes.com. The site says fans were more impressed: About 81% of moviegoers said they enjoyed the story of Robinson's breaking of pro baseball's color barrier.
The debut smashed the previous recordholder for biggest baseball opening, the 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers, which debuted to $19.7 million. The highest grossing baseball film of all time is the 1992 comedy A League of Their Own at $107.5 million, the only film about America's pastime to crack $100 million.
Tim Briody of BoxOfficeProphets.com says that the movie resonated with older audiences, often reticent to turn out on opening weekend.
Briody, who calls 42's bow "impressive," says the move "stands a good chance of finding some legs over ... the next couple of weeks as a top option for older audiences."
Scary, on the other hand, wasn't a top option for many. Analysts expected the film to do at least $16 million.
Briody says that Scary's debut isn't "terrible, but what was supposedly a close race between this and 42 turns into a blowout."
Critics didn't help Scary's prospects. Just 6% of reviewers approved of the movie, though 79% of fans like it, according to Rottentomatoes.com.
The Nicolas Cage cartoon The Croods continued its strong run, taking in $13.2 million and third place.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation was fourth with $10.8 million, followed by the horror film Evil Dead with $9.5 million.
Final figures are due Monday.
By Scott Bowles