In this weekend’s box office showdown, Big Hero 6 took the title over Interstellar. But there were no real losers on the first frame of the 2014 holiday movie season. It’s been months since the last high-profile animated film was in theatres, so the fact that Big Hero 6 came out on top makes sense. And while the sky-high expectations for director Christopher Nolan’s latest were not realized, Interstellar did come close to matching the $55.7 million debut of Gravity – without the advantage of 3D pricing.
|1.||Big Hero 6||$56,200,000||$56.2|
|10.||The Book of Life||$2,800,000||$45.2|
Full story after the jump.
Interstellar may not have had the 3D price advantage of Gravity, but it did have IMAX screens busy this weekend. Released in 370 IMAX locations (the largest release for the format to date), Interstellar drew a reported 25% of its Friday estimate from IMAX theatres. Even with the large-format boost, this will be the first Nolan pic to open below first place since 2002’s Insomnia. Interstellar also opened lower than Inception, the director’s last non-franchise release. In July 2010, Inception debuted with $62.7 million, though it had only Disney’s underwhelming The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as competition.
Many projections put Interstellar above $70 million for its first weekend, likely fueled by Nolan’s box office profile. Thanks to The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, Nolan is one of the most successful directors of the last decade – with a string of five consecutive number one openings to his credit. But so far, the critical response to Interstellar hasn’t lived up to the hype. The film has a current Rotten Tomato score of 73 percent, compared to the 86% of Inception and the 97% of Gravity. Audiences gave the film an average CinemaScore of B+, just below the A-Gravity scored last year.
Interstellar has one more weekend before The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 crushes the box office, so there is still a chance for the sci-fi adventure to distinguish itself. So far, word of mouth doesn’t seem anywhere near the levels of Gravity or Inception, but Nolan’s Batman Begins also looked weak on its opening weekend, and we all know how that worked out.
Unlike Interstellar, Big Hero 6 actually exceeded expectations for its debut. The first major animated release since Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue in July was projected to open with $50 million – about what Wreck-It Ralph claimed on the same frame in 2012.
Between Frozen, Maleficent and Marvel, it’s been an incredible year for Disney. The studio has three of this year’s top five films, including first and second place with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Those rankings don’t include Frozen, which was released last November but dominated the animated market well into spring. Frozen is now Disney’s highest-grossing animated film of all time – aside from The Lion King, which added to its original total with its recent 3D re-release. In terms of Big Hero 6, the legacy of Frozen is an important selling point. Though the film is based on a Marvel comic series, most of Disney’s ads positioned the film as “from the makers of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.”
Holdovers made up the rest of the top ten this weekend, including a surprise resurgence of Gone Girl. Now in its sixth weekend in theatres, the David Fincher drama returned to third place with yet another excellent hold of -28%. So far, Gone Girl has earned close to $295 million worldwide and has earned $145 million in North America alone.
Last weekend’s strongest new release, Nightcrawler, was down 47% in its sophomore frame. At this time one week ago the estimates for Nightcrawler and Ouija were so close that it was unclear which movie would be on top once official studio results were released. Monday revealed that it was Ouija that got the win, making it one of the only horror movies in recent memory to spend two weeks in first place. The Grudge managed the same feat in 2004, as did Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island in 2010 – though the latter is really just horror-esque.
With Interstellar coming in softer than expected, this weekend’s overall box office was down 5% from this time last year, when Thor: The Dark World started the whole “Avengers bump” phenom with its $85.7 million opening. Assuming a strong hold for Big Hero 6, next weekend’s box office should end up close to the same frame in 2013: otherwise known as “the weekend before Catching Fire came out.” The only major new release will be Dumb and Dumber To, the follow-up to 1994’s comedy. It would be surprising if the sequel topped $30 million, but I was also surprised by the popularity of Grown Ups 2 last summer. We’ll just have to wait and see if Harry and Lloyd still have an audience after 20 years.