A strong debut for Fox’s global family hit Rio eclipsed a subdued start for Scream 4, the latest entry in The Weinstein Company/Dimension’s 15-year-old horror spoof series.

Rio’s $40m launch means it is the number one worldwide release following a $54m second weekend overseas haul that boosted the tally to $129m.

Scream 4’s weekend haul of $19.3m fell a little below expectations and by way of comparison, Scream 3 debuted in February 2000 on $34.7m, while Scream 2 opened on $32.6m in December 1997. The first film remains the biggest grosser of the series on $103m.

Universal’s animation Hop fell two places to number three and stands at $82.6m after three weekends and looks a good bet to cross $100m within a week or two. Warner Bros’ Arthur remake ranks sixth on $22.3m after two.

Robert Redford’s historical courtroom drama The Conspirator starring Robin Penn and James McAvoy premiered in Toronto last autumn and it opened over the weekend in ninth place on $3.9m through Roadside Attractions.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Fox’s Water For Elephants starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon; Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family from Lionsgate; and Buena Vista’s documentary African Cats.

Estimated Top 10 North America Apr 15-17, 2010
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Rio (Fox) Fox Int’l $40m –
2 (-) Scream 4 (TWC/Dimension) TWC Int’l $19.3m –
3 (1) Hop (Universal) UPI $11.2m $82.6m
4 (4) Soul Surfer (TriStar / FilmDistrict) QED Int’l $7.4m $19.9m
5 (2) Hanna (Focus Features) FFI $7.3m $23.3m
6 (3) Arthur (Warner Bros) WBPI $6.9m $22.3m
7 (5) Insidious (FilmDistrict) IM Global $6.9m $35.9m
8 (7) Source Code (Summit) Summit Int’l $6.3m $36.9m
9 (-) The Conspirator (Roadside Attractions) FFI $3.9m —
10 (6) Your Highness (Universal) UPI $3.9m $15.9m