Warner Bros and its Batman trilogy financing partner Legendary Pictures chose a smart time to release a Jackie Robinson baseball drama: the US season has just got under way and there are no other new heavy hitters.
Sure enough, 42 shone in an otherwise weak session, and Harrison Ford scored his first No 1 release since, well, his last movie, Cowboys & Aliens in July 2011. Han Solo hasn't lost his allure.
Ford plays Branch Rickey, the eccentrically named Brooklyn Dodgers team executive who helped propel Robinson to stardom when he signed the emerging talent and broke the colour barrier. Chadwick Boseman plays the baseball superstar and Brian Helgeland directs.
When Weinstein Company stablemate Dimension Films launched Scary Movie in 2000, the horror spoof offered fresh, if unabashedly dumb laughs, and it settled into the pop culture landscape alongside the very genre movies it sought to parody. Scary Movie starred the gifted Anna Faris, who stayed around for three sequels. Faris was wise to depart the franchise after that (although she did appear earlier this year alongside a firmament of Hollywood celebrities in Relativity's theatrical flop Movie 43), and that is a major problem with the fifth episode.
The other issues are a lack of contemporary star power, a tired formula that needs to be extinguished and the appearance of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen as themselves. The last element says it all, and Scary Movie 5 came in second on a dismal $15.2m (£10m). This was approximately one-third of what its predecessor mustered in its opening weekend seven years ago. Surely they won't make a sixth episode, but this is Hollywood: as long as there's money to be made on VoD or digital, this nonsense may well be back.
As the example of Scary Movie 5 illustrates, April can be something of a hinterland in the run up to the blockbuster season launch pad that is May. The studios favour March with their first-quarter tentpoles, however the fourth month can still pack a punch. Warner Bros launched Clash of the Titans in April 2010 and Universal has found success with several Fast and Furious instalments, most notably Fast Five, which set the all-time April opening record of $86.2m (£56m) in 2011.
Universal executives will hope to improve April's averages next weekend with the arrival of Oblivion, the Tom Cruise sci-fi that grossed a little over $61m (£40m) in its international launch at the weekend. That included a $7.9m (£5m) No 1 UK debut. Cruise hasn't lost his appeal either and, if the movie is right, he can still play in the big leagues.
North American top 10, 12-14 April 2013
1. 42, $27.3m
2. Scary Movie 5, $15.2m
3. The Croods, $13.2m. Total: $142.5m
4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation, $10.8m. Total: $102.4m
5. Evil Dead, $9.5m. Total: $41.5m
6. Jurassic Park 3D, $8.8m. Total: $31.9m
7. Olympus Has Fallen, $7.3m. Total: $81.9m
8. Oz the Great and Powerful, $4.9m. Total: $219.4m
9. Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, $4.5m. Total: $45.4m
10. The Place Beyond the Pines, $4.3m. Total: $5.5m
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image: © Jonathan Wade