Box Office: ‘Big Hero 6’ Races Past ‘Interstellar’ With $56.2 Million

Family audiences lifted “Big Hero 6” over “Interstellar” and the fanboys and girls who turned out in force for Christopher Nolan’s space adventure in one of the fiercest box office match-ups of the year.

“Big Hero 6” topped the charts with $56.2 million from 3,761 locations, continuing Walt Disney Animation Studios’ recent hot streak. After the success of “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” the division is no longer the also-ran to Pixar, its corporate cousin.

“They have been on quite the roll,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief. “They’re in a creative renaissance.”

Despite a formidable dueling partner in “Big Hero 6,” “Interstellar” scored a sizable $50 million from 3,561 locations, according to studio estimates. If “Interstellar’s” numbers hold, it will mark only the fourth time in history that two films have debuted to more than $50 million at the domestic box office, and each one of the previous occasions took place in the summer, when ticket sales are at their highest.

“It’s good for the marketplace,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at “The programming this weekend was very intelligent, and we didn’t have a lot of that this year. Neither movie hurt the other one. They were both operating in separate camps and they both found an audience.”

Both films carry massive $165 million pricetags, so in order to turn a profit, they must resonate with viewers across the globe and to demonstrate staying power. Nolan’s “Inception,” another trippy blockbuster, managed to become one of 2010’s biggest hits because it was a box office Energizer Bunny, holding on to first place for three consecutive weeks and dropping just 32% and 35% in its second and third weekends.

Likewise, Walt Disney Studios’ recent global blockbuster “Frozen” refused to loosen its hold on audiences. Despite opening over Thanksgiving, it continued to generate impressive returns through February. Having a ubiquitous power ballad like “Let It Go” didn’t hurt matters.

Paramount Pictures released “Interstellar” domestically, while Warner Bros. handled the foreign rollout. “Interstellar” kicked off in a few hundred Imax and film projection locations on Tuesday before expanding on Thursday evening. Its total is $52.1 million, with Imax comprising $13.4 million or 26% of its opening weekend gross, while other premium large format screens were responsible for 10.5% of that figure. Over an hour of “Interstellar” was shot using Imax cameras, making it the preferred venue for cinephiles and Nolan aficionados. By racking up more than a quarter of its earnings in Imax, “Interstellar” gave the wide screen company the largest percentage of box office it has ever generated for a first-run release.

“We made a commitment to this movie and the studios, and Chris made a commitment to us,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment. “We put everything into this movie because this represents everything that Imax is about. It’s a quality-focused filmmaker taking advantage of our DNA.”

The audience was fairly evenly split among the genders (52% male vs. 48% female), but skewed older with ticket buyers 25 and older accounting for 75% of sales.

“Interstellar” stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain and centers on a group of space explorers who leave an ecologically devastated Earth to travel through wormholes in order to find a new home for humanity. Popular and critical response has been polarized — some hail it as visionary, others fault it for being ponderous.

Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore likened the divided reactions to those drawn by “Wolf of Wall Street” and Nolan’s “Inception,” both of which were commercially successful despite passionate detractors.

“When you look at the way people talk about this movie, you have some reviews that didn’t like it and then you have some who think it’s one of the best, if not the best, science-fiction movie ever made,” he said. “It’s that type of polarizing opinion that leads to conversation, and people want to see the movie so they can be part of that conversation.”

“Big Hero 6” has enjoyed warmer reviews (a 91% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes versus a 73% mark for “Interstellar”). Loosely based on a Marvel Comics series of the same name, the film follows a science prodigy and his lovable robot as they stumble upon a criminal conspiracy. The movie was co-directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), the voice cast features Scott Adsit, Damon Wayans Jr. and Maya Rudolph.

Opening weakend audiences were evenly split between males and females, with 36% of the crowd coming in under age 12. Hollis said he was pleased that 20% of the audience was between 26 and 34 and 16% was between 35 and 49, believing it positions the film well for the upcoming holiday season.

“It works with older audiences,” he said. “It’s not just families and kids.”

The robust grosses for “Interstellar” and “Big Hero 6” didn’t result in too many leftovers. “Gone Girl” scored third place with $6.1 million, bringing its total to $145 million, while “Ouija” captured fourth place with $6 million, pushing its earnings to $43.5 million.

The Weinstein Company’s “St. Vincent” continued to be one of the rare indies to reap financial rewards of late. The Bill Murray comedy added $5.7 million to its $27 million haul, which put it in fifth place, while Sony Pictures’ “Fury” rolled into sixth position with $5.5 million, propelling it to $69.3 million domestically.

In limited release, Focus Features bowed Oscar hopeful “The Theory of Everything” in five locations across New York, Los Angles, and Toronto. The biopic about astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his first wife picked up $206,000, for a per-screen average of $41,400. Eddie Redmayne is exciting serious awards buzz for his turn as Hawking and the film is viewed as a Best Picture contender, which could help “Theory of Everything” capture audience attention as it widens its presence in theaters. It will broaden its footprint to 40 runs next weekend in 18 North American markets and is plotting a major expansion for Thanksgiving week.

“It’s an emotional story about a great love that these two people had for each other and the sacrifices and ordeals they went through,” said Jim Orr, president of distribution at Focus Features. “We think word-of-mouth is going to be tremendous.”

The Edward Snowden documentary “Citizenfour” continued to impress, earning $207,834 from 59 screens, for a $3,523 per-screen average. The Radius-TWC release has picked up $667,293 after three weeks.

Sony Pictures Classics expanding the indie drama “Whiplash” from 61 to 88 screens, where it picked up $346,732, for a per screen average of $3,826, and brought its earnings to $1.5 million.

“Birdman” continued to fly high on gonzo wings. The Fox Searchlight backstage comedy doubled its screen count to 462, earning $2.3 million in the process. In four weeks, it has earned $8.1 million.

Going into the weekend, some box office prognosticators gave the edge to “Interstellar,” but they were ignoring history. In the three previous instances where two films have bowed to more than $50 million — “Monsters University” versus “World War Z” in 2013, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” versus “Prometheus” in 2012 and “Wanted” versus “WALL-E” in 2008 — the animated film has prevailed. This weekend, “Big Hero 6” was Goliath.

“When you open against a family, animated movie, any other movie is going to be David,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.

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  1. Bill B. says:

    I haven’t seen Interstellar yet, but plan to this week (I suspect I will have mixed feelings like many, but it is a must see despite the length), but I’ve been thinking about his career and Inception was a spectacle to behold and the Batman movies were terrific & well made dark fun. I even appreciated the very moody Insomnia and found Following an interesting first film though I didn’t appreciate The Prestige much. Despite many of these being hits & acclaimed, the only Nolan film that really still sticks with me and that I remember the most, is still Memento.

  2. Orson Olson says:

    Fifty years from now, “What would Christopher Columbus do?” “Interstellar” is one visionary director’s answer. It ain’t necessarily more convincing than Wagner’s Ring Cycle, but nobody will deny its epic feel.

  3. Dean says:

    Let’s not forget that the head man at Pixar, John Lasseter, is now Disney’s chief Executive Producer on the animated front, so Pixar is still the reason for their success of late. Without John, none of this would be happening.

  4. Vish Gos says:

    You have to remember that epic movies like Shawdhank Redemption or 2001 or Citizen Kane weren’t declared heroes overnight. They were recognized with time…. I’m not concerned about Interstellar’s box office right now as much as I’m happy that it’ll sweep some Oscars. Then Big Hero 6 will get a HUGE middle finger in the face!!!!

    Apparently IMDb user reviews have been more than exceptional for Interstellar. MetaCritic’s senile reviewers will need a lotta grey matter before they can digest Interstellar. And such critics have a habit of dismissing what they don’t understand as a “plot hole”. As far as theatre’s concerned, where I saw, the crowds were swooning with awe ,”oohh!! aah!!!” when the Endeavour grazed through the wormhole and Gargantua. People applauded when Cooper made it to that 5-D realm to transmit the code….. there were laughs all around when a 124 yr. old Cooper was actually talking to her grandma-daughter. Lol!!!!

    • mightymad says:

      … “Interstellar” will not sweep the Oscars. It’s just not going to happen.
      It’s not going to win against “Guardians of the Galaxy” where special effects are concerned.
      Not gonna win Best Original Screenplay.
      Nolan is not going to beat either Fincher or especially González Iñárritu as Best Director.
      And it’s definitely not going to win Best Picture.

      It will gets all those noms, I’ll grant you that… but winning? C’mon now…

      • Vish Gos says:

        I doubt that the Academy will give way to another cbm after The Dark Knight. So many top-notch special effect movies like Transformers pass right through their noses… The Avengers managed an Academy nom, but Life of Pi won it because Life of Pi has far better critical acclaim on many fronts. Guardians of the Galaxy is just another blockbuster, not an Academy probable.

        Interstellar will WIN on the technical front (special effects VFX, costumes/set-up/art direction all that stuff). It belongs to that breed of movies like Gravity, Avatar or Inception this year, with critical acclaim, not some Marvel fanbash like GOTG.

        Negligible movies with technical Oscar buzz this year but Interstellar will face heavy competition from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies on the effects and costumes front. The Hobbit prequels have won Oscars before as it is a critics favourite reminiscent of the original trilogy.

        Interstellar won’t make a mark on the core non-technical fronts with critically acclaimed movies like Birdman, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything on the hitlist.

        BUT Interstellar WILL bag an Academy for Hans Zimmer’s outstanding score, sound mixing, sound editing and maybe cinematography.

    • Guy Rinnie says:

      What’s your problem, mate?

    • MichaelZ says:

      The only thing I had trouble digesting was the simple minded plot points: not spoilers but I wish I could really elaborate on the horrible writing. For now I’ll leave you with these: 1) little girl sneaks into her dad’s truck 2) widower leaves his kids to jump on spaceship with zero story development and Star Trek (the TV series) “twists” 3) isn’t “she” in love with someone else? Beatiful cinemaphotography. All style / little substance script.

      • Wish I could intelligently respond to ur praise without spoilers. But… being choosy & making calculations is one thing. But if you give this soufflé more than 3 seconds of thought, none of it makes any sense. & don’t agree on nitpicks. Lazy/weak writing. After everyone sees it, they should ask themselves: wasn’t there a simple, easy way to fix everything without all the silly “choosing” & “calculations?” Think about it. It will bend your mind in ways this average flick never could.

      • Vish Gos says:

        These are very little nitpicks before the story even takes off. And your complaints are subjective, I can’t help you there.

        What you should be contemplating on is their whole spatial journey, their calculations to thrive, being choosy with planets, the intricacy endowed in these planets’ atmospherics, Matt Damon’s shocking betrayal and most of all that deep down plunge in the Gargantua….. to play with time itself.

  5. Bill B. says:

    Visionary or ponderous. Sounds just like the original reviews of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  6. B says:

    Fanboys for the Nolan pic? That might have been true about his Batman films, but not Interstellar. The audience for Interstellar is clearly composed of people who still believe in the existence of that nearly-extinct creature, The Tentpole for Grown-Ups. These are people who still believe that the cinema is a place where the power of film — like, actual celluloid — can reach its full potential, and the turnout affirms that this remains a sizable portion of the population. Comparing it to the animated movie is a bit misleading, as the Disney pic is designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

    Clearly, though, the main issue with Interstellar has nothing to do with the writing, the direction (which is brilliant) or the composer drowning out the actor’s lines (as the New Yorker article suggested). There is one mistake that was made with this picture, early on in the film making process, during the casting of the picture.

    The issue is McConaughey. He’s too slow and not important enough of a figure to carry the film forward according to the director’s vision.

    Hitchcock once said that he made a similar mistake in casting Foreign Correspondent (1940), and
    for that reason Interstellar is probably more worthy of comparison to that film than something like 2001. Nolan could have probably avoided a lot of the current criticism had he viewed the Hitchcock film before casting McConaughey in the present picture.

  7. MichaelZ says:

    “Interstellar” is the most over-hyped / overrated movie in years. Beautiful visuals but bloated, ridiculous mind-dumbing script drags everything down.

    But what do you expect now that Hollywood is lazily cranking out mega movies which must appeal to EVERYONE around the world? Trying to take money from everyone leaves no one satisfied except the greedy UNcreative studio execs. “Interstellar” personifies everything wrong with Hollywood today.

    For a real movie, skip “Interstellar” and instead, spend your money on “Citizen Four” about brave, fearless NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden who risked it all, committing treason according to an almost never used WWII espionage law. A true hero willing to take the consequences of his selfless act.

    • mightymad says:


      Fine piece of work… but definitely overrated by tons of people.

      As I said before, it’s fine… but probably my least favorite Nolan picture.

    • Orson Olson says:

      MM fixes it, eh? I believe Cadillac buyers would beg to differ from you. Any other suggestions? Because not many leading stars fit that “aw shucks” engineer/Right Stuff experimental pilot persona as well…. I can’t think of one, off-hand.

    • B says:

      Snowden is an opportunistic criminal, plain and simple — a sort of poor man’s version of Aldrich Ames. He is masquerading as a whistle-blower whilst backstabbing the most liberal administration this country has seen since Kennedy. A real whistle-blower believes in the justice system of his/her home country, he/she doesn’t flee to a racist dictatorship that bullies its weaker neighbors. Don’t know where you’re getting your information about the “almost never used WWII espionage law,” it’s used every time we have a traitor.

      • MichaelZ says:

        LMAO. Yup, he’s a criminal alright. According to a ridiculous WWII law. He’ll admit that. But when will blind idiots admit that what he exposed was not only “criminal,” it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

        As for Snowden, he probably agrees with you. Yup, “opportunistic.” Genius really. He opportunitstically exposed unconstitutional U.S. government crimes against its own citizens, trusted allies and bad guys. And then he opportunistically gave up his secure life, family, friends, EVERYTHING to live in exile. Yup, that’s it: “opportunistic.” IF you’re a simple minded follower incapable of scratching below the surface. (-:

    • Even though I did not like interstellar that much….. I applaud the film for being different from the other releases…… Please tell me one of the lazy space exploration films that released this year which is based on real scientific theory.

      And as for citiizenfour……WHEN IS IT GOING TO RELEASE IN MY TOWN

    • Bill says:

      “Interstellar” is an important film of the type we haven’t seen in decades. It’s by far the most adult film I’ve seen in years. Neither summer actioner nor whiny Oscar-bait, people will be celebrating it 46 years from now just as people are doing this year for 2001, another similarly polarizing film.

    • kenneth britton says:

      Interstellar is one of the greatest movie to grace the big screen. Go see it people!

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Snowden may be a hero to some, but to others he belongs in jail. Of course, heroes don’t run and hide in a country ruled by a despot. Everything he despises about the US is fully part of the fabric of Russia. Heroes don’t continue to live in a country ruled by a mass murderer. Funny how Snowden can’t live in a country like the US because of what he uncovered, but has no problem with Mother Russia, even after the downing if the Malaysian airliner. Yep, what a hero,

      • MichaelZ says:

        So simple minded it’s almost not worthy of a response. But, your comments about “…a country ruled by a mass murderer” apply to the U.S. under Bush. And simple minded because it ignores the fact that the some of the greatest heroes throughout history were also considered criminals under their countries laws at the time. Criminal and Hero are NOT mutually exclusive.

        See “Citizen Four” – skip “Interstellar.”

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