NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Actuals: ‘Big Hero 6’ Wins Box Office Battle with $56.2M; ‘Interstellar’ Arrives Under Expectations with $47.5M

Disney’s Big Hero 6 led the way at the box office this weekend with $56.22 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 $15.81 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 $24.05 million and fell 32 percent on Sunday to gross $16.36 million. That placed the film’s opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.56 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 $47.51 million (the film came in roughly $2.5 million below Sunday’s studio estimate). The highly anticipated Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film has grossed $49.66 million to date, after an additional two days of limited release on Wednesday and Thursday. Interstellar opened 15 percent below the $55.79 million start of last year’s Gravity (which did have the advantage of higher priced 3D admissions) and 24 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 $16.87 million (which included $2.7 million from late night shows on Thursday), increased a modest 8 percent on Saturday to fall to second with $18.29 million and declined 32.5 percent on Sunday to gross $12.35 million. That places the film’s opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.82 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.

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 $833,859 separated third place and seventh place this weekend.

Fox’s Gone Girl claimed third place with $6.21 million. The critically acclaimed David Fincher directed film continued to hold up well as it was down just 27 percent from last weekend. The hold was especially impressive given the new competition from Interstellar. Gone Girl has grossed an impressive $145.54 million in 38 days, which leaves it $4.46 million away from reaching the $150 million domestic mark.

Ouija followed closely behind in fourth with $5.87 million. The low-budget horror film from Universal and Platinum Dunes was down a very respectable 45 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 $43.33 million.

Sony’s Fury rounded out the weekend’s top five with $5.63 million. The World War II film starring Brad Pitt was down a very solid 36 percent from last weekend. Fury is on the verge of clearing the $70 million mark with a 24-day take of $69.39 million.

The Weinstein Company’s St. Vincent placed in sixth with $5.41 million. The well-received comedy starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy had another strong hold this weekend, as it was down only 25 percent. Thanks in part to continued strong word of mouth, St. Vincent has grossed $27.05 million to date.

On the heels of last weekend’s close second place start, Open Road’s Nightcrawler fell to seventh place this weekend with $5.37 million. The critically acclaimed crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal was down a significant 49 percent, which suggests that the film isn’t going over as well with audiences as it has with critics. Nightcrawler has grossed $19.62 million in ten days, which is in line with expectations.

On the platform front, Focus’ The Theory of Everything was off to a noteworthy start with $208,763 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 $41,753 for the frame.

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