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 - about the first black player in Major League Baseball - took in 27.3 million dollars to claim the US weekend box office championship, according to studio estimates.
The Robinson 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 dollar international launch in 52 countries for his science-fiction thriller Oblivion.
The film stars Cruise as a workman on a devastated future Earth who lands in a battle with aliens.
Released by Warner Bros, 42 easily beat the domestic start of an established franchise in Scary Movie 5, according to Hollywood.com. The Weinstein Co sequel opened in second place with 15.2 million dollars, the smallest debut for the horror-comedy series.
Three of the previous four Scary Movie instalments had debuts of 40 million dollars 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 dollars.
The previous weekend's top draw, Sony's horror remake Evil Dead, tumbled to number five with 9.5 million dollars, raising its US haul to 41.5 million.
The 27.3 million dollar opening for 42 is a record for a baseball film in terms of straight dollars, topping the 19.5 million debut of Brad Pitt's Moneyball in 2011. 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 to break the colour barrier.
"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 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."