NORTH AMERICA: Studio Estimates: ‘Big Hero 6’ Wins Box Office Battle with $56.2M; ‘Interstellar’ Arrives Under Expectations with $50.0M

Sunday Update: Disney’s Big Hero 6 led the way at the box office this weekend with an estimated $56.2 million. That gave the 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios a relatively comfortable win in its battle with Interstellar this weekend to kick off the holiday movie season. Big Hero 6 opened in line with its lofty expectations and is set to represent another strong recent performer for Walt Disney Animation, joining the likes of last year’s Frozen, 2010’s Tangled and 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph. Big Hero 6 opened an impressive 15 percent stronger than the $49.04 million debut of Wreck-It Ralph.

Big Hero 6 opened in a close second with $15.83 million on Friday (which included $1.4 million from late night shows on Thursday), moved into first place on Saturday by surging 52 percent to gross $24.06 million and is estimated to fall 32 percent on Sunday to gross $16.31 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.55 to 1. Big Hero 6 received a strong A rating on CinemaScore, which is a very good sign for the film going forward.

The audience breakdown for Big Hero 6 was evenly split between genders and skewed towards moviegoers under the age of 25 (58 percent). Family audiences made up a sizable 72 percent of the film’s overall audience. 3D grosses accounted for 29 percent of this weekend’s overall grosses.

Paramount’s Interstellar was considered the favorite by many heading into the weekend, but ultimately had to settle for second place with an estimated $50.0 million. The highly anticipated Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film has grossed $52.15 million to date, after an additional two days of limited release on Wednesday and Thursday. Interstellar opened 10 percent below the $55.79 million start of last year’s Gravity (which did have the advantage of higher priced 3D admissions) and 20 percent below the $62.79 million debut of 2010’s Inception. Given the comparisons, it appears that the high level of anticipation for Interstellar among Nolan’s fanbase didn’t really transfer over outside of the fanbase. The film’s mixed critical reviews likely played a significant part in that.

Interstellar took first place on Friday with $17.00 million (which included $2.7 million from late night shows on Thursday), increased a modest 8.5 percent on Saturday to fall to second with $18.45 million and is estimated to fall 21 percent on Sunday to gross $14.55 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.94 to 1. While the film’s nearly three-hour run-time will likely lead to some natural back-loading, it remains to be seen if Interstellar will hold up as well as Gravity and Inception did. The film’s B+ rating on CinemaScore, while solid, also leaves a bit to be desired, though it should be noted that Inception also received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.

The audience breakdown for Interstellar was nearly evenly split between genders (52 percent male, 48 percent female) and skewed heavily towards moviegoers 25 years and older (75 percent). With that in mind, the relative lack of appeal with teens and young adults was a key component of the film’s softer than expected start. Interstellar received a significant boost from its strong IMAX performance this weekend, as the film grossed $13.4 million from IMAX locations.  That represented 27 percent of the film’s overall grosses this weekend.

With the weekend’s box office being dominated by the battle between Big Hero 6 and Interstellar, holdovers took a clear backseat. In addition, holdovers were especially bunched together, as just $600,000 separated third place and seventh place this weekend. As a result, final rankings could still change a bit when actual grosses are released on Monday.

Fox’s Gone Girl claimed third place with an estimated $6.1 million. The critically acclaimed David Fincher directed film continued to hold up well as it was down just 28 percent from last weekend. The hold was especially impressive given the new competition from Interstellar. Gone Girl has grossed an impressive $145.43 million in 38 days, which leaves it $4.57 million away from reaching the $150 million domestic mark.

Ouija followed closely behind in fourth with an estimated $6.0 million. The low-budget horror film from Universal and Platinum Dunes was down a very respectable 44 percent. After opening on the low end of expectations a few weeks ago, Ouija has held up surprisingly well for a horror film. The 17-day total for the film stands at $43.46 million.

The Weinstein Company’s St. Vincent placed in fifth with an estimated $5.71 million. The well-received comedy starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy had another strong hold this weekend, as it was down only 21 percent. Thanks in part to continued strong word of mouth, St. Vincent has grossed $27.36 million to date.

On the heels of last weekend’s close second place start, Open Road’s Nightcrawler fell to sixth place this weekend with an estimated $5.51 million. The critically acclaimed crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal was down a significant 47 percent, which suggests that the film isn’t going over as well with audiences as it has with critics. Nightcrawler has grossed $19.76 million in ten days, which is in line with expectations.

Sony’s Fury landed in seventh place with an estimated $5.5 million. The World War II film starring Brad Pitt was down a solid 38 percent from last weekend. Fury is on the verge of clearing the $70 million mark with a 24-day take of $69.27 million.

On the platform front, Focus’ The Theory of Everything was off to a noteworthy start with an estimated $207,000 from 5 locations in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. That gave the James Marsh directed biopic of Stephen Hawking a per-location average of $41,400 for the frame.

Saturday Update: Paramount reports that Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar bowed to an estimated $17 million Friday, including $2.7 million from Thursday night when it expanded nationwide following an early release in IMAX and film formats on Tuesday evening. The film’s total thus far is now $19.15 million. As far as Friday alone goes, this is in line with that of Gravity ($17.5 million) and behind Nolan’s own Inception ($21.8 million), although the latter somewhat benefited from a summer release and no other big opener that weekend. Friday’s box office included $4.6 million (a 27 percent share) from IMAX and $1.9 million (11 percent) from other premium large format screens. BoxOffice projects a $54 million 3-day weekend, which would give it an overall start of $56.15 million through Sunday.

Early word of mouth for Interstellar is, frankly, debatable. Critics’ reactions weren’t as enthusiastic as one normally expects for a Nolan movie, garnering a 72 percent Rotten Tomatoes score (enough to be “Certified Fresh”)–however, the film’s Flixster score is a strong 89 percent as of Saturday morning. CinemaScore was a “B+”, the same grade Inception received four years ago, while audiences skewed toward adults with 75 percent of Friday’s audience 25 or older. Men accounted for 52 percent of the audience.

While Nolan boasts a huge online fan base that could be driving some of the positive word of mouth, these stats do suggest some possible disconnect between critics and audiences. Nevertheless, we won’t really know the answer to that until the end of this weekend–possibly later–as more casual moviegoers get a chance to see the picture.

Disney’s Big Hero 6 took advantage of what’s been a relatively weak family movie market since summer ended (if not longer). The pic took in a fantastic $15.83 million between its Thursday evening and full Friday shows. By comparison, Wreck-It Ralph pulled a $13.5 million opening day two years ago as part of a $49 million weekend. Early word of mouth for Disney’s latest flick is very encouraging with 91 percent of Flixster audiences approving so far, as well as a fantastic 93 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Thanks in part to the revived appeal of the Disney Animation name, look for this to hold very well over the holiday season. BoxOffice projects a $57.5 million opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Nightcrawler was off 47 percent from opening day on Halloween last week to $1.7 million yesterday. Its 8-day total stands at $15.9 million. BoxOffice projects $5.4 million for its sophomore frame.

Fury added $1.68 million as it boosted its domestic cume to $65.4 million. Look for a weekend close to $5.5 million.

Rounding out the top five, Gone Girl tacked on another $1.86 million yesterday. Its total now stands at $144.2 million as it heads toward a $6 million weekend.

Friday Evening Update: Sources tell BoxOffice that Big Hero 6 is set to win the weekend with $60 million or more, based on early Friday grosses. Interstellar is on pace for $55 million or so.


The weekend is shaping up to be very competitive and things could change significantly between now and Sunday.


Check back tomorrow for official studio figures.


Update: Sources report that Interstellar grabbed $3.5 million on Thursday, with $2.7 million of that representing the film’s wide release expansion during evening-only shows. The space epic’s two-day total stands at $4.9 million.


Previously: Sources report that Big Hero 6 took in an estimated $1.4 million from Thursday night shows. By comparison, last year’s Frozen earned $1.2 million from Tuesday evening screenings ahead of its Thanksgiving release. The LEGO Movie earned $400,000 on Thursday night earlier this year, although the discrepancy can largely be attributed to the fact that Disney has a history of drawing stronger upfront interest than most animation houses.


Meanwhile, Thursday grosses for Interstellar will be reported later today, as well as early Friday estimates. The Christopher Nolan pic opened in limited release on Tuesday evening.


More to come.