Animated Film Oscar Preview

Big Hero 6” and “Interstellar” are hitting out-of-this-world figures in their opening weekends.

Paramount’s “Interstellar” hauled $17 million Stateside at the Friday box office, edging out Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” which earned $15.8 million. However, the animated film looks to skyrocket past the space epic by weekend’s end with $56 million-plus — coming in below bullish estimates of $66 million in a closer-than-expected race. “Interstellar” is headed for a still-stellar $51.1 million weekend, which would raise its cume to $53.3 million.

If both films cross $50 million, it will mark only the fourth time in box office history where two movies have opened north of that figure on the same weekend. “World War Z” and “Monster’s University” were the last two movies to reach that milestone when they hit theaters in June of 2013.

An animated movie and a live-action pic dueled it out on all previous occasions as well: “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” went up against “Prometheus” and “Wall-E” duked it out with “Wanted.” The animated film won in all three aforementioned matchups. The trend looks to continue this weekend.

This weekend’s showings are a far cry from last weekend’s Halloween frame, when “Ouija” beat the opening of “Nightcrawler” in its second weekend with $10.7 million.

“Big Hero 6” and “Interstellar” are evenly matched in that both have budgets of $165 million and are opening in over 3,500 U.S. theaters. “Big Hero” is a bigger hit with critics, earning 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Interstellar” has received mixed reviews to the tune of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” which wowed with $3.6 million from previews in its first two days of limited release, follows a group of explorers who journey through space in a newly discovered wormhole. At 169 minutes, “Interstellar” marks Nolan’s longest film to date.

“Interstellar” earned $4.6 million (27% of its total haul) from IMAX screens and $1.9 million (11%) from other premium large format screens on Friday. IMAX theaters comprise 366 of its 3,561 total locations. The “Interstellar” audience skewed slightly male with men making up 52% of the audience. Only a quarter of the audience was 25 and under.

Warner Bros. is handling international distribution. “Interstellar” grossed $17 million from 62 markets on Friday, bringing its cume to $26.6 million. It came in no. 1 in Korea ($2.6 million) and the U.K. ($2.4 million) on Friday.

The film has been shrouded in mystery for months, which has likely heightened its appeal. That, coupled with Matthew McConaughey’s revived star power, could have contributed to the success. The all-star cast also includes Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine.

Meanwhile, the comedy adventure “Big Hero 6” is reaching a wider demographic as a family film and is surely benefiting from Disney Animation’s box office hot streak following Frozen’s incredible success.

“Big Hero 6” tells the story of a prodigy and his trusted marshmallow robot who join forces with a team of first-time crime fighters to save the city of San Fransokyo. The main characters are voiced by Scott Adsit and Ryan Potter, while Damon Wayans Jr., Maya Rudolph and T.J. Miller round out the supporting voice cast.

Last weekend’s winner, “Ouija,” finished a distant third on Friday with $1.9 million on its way to a $6 million third frame. Universal’s thriller will have likely earned a total of $43.5 million by weekend’s end.

“Gone Girl” shows no signs of slowing down. It placed fourth on Friday in its sixth weekend with $1.86 million and is eyeing a $5.8 million finish by Sunday. If estimates hold, the Ben Affleck-starrer will have raised its cume to $145 million by Sunday.

Sony’s fourth weekend of “Fury” rounded out the top five with $1.7 million on Friday. The WWII tank drama is shooting for a weekend between $5.5 million and $6 million for an estimated domestic cume of $69.1 million.

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