×

Disney’s “Big Hero 6” has taken the lead spot at this weekend’s box office, heading for a finish as high as $66 million — enough to top a still-impressive launch in the $56 million range by Paramount’s “Interstellar,” according to Friday estimates.

Early numbers show both titles performing up to lofty expectations with “Interstellar” winning Friday with $20 million, followed by around $18 million for “Big Hero 6.” Saturday projections were showing “Hero” jumping to $28 million with “Interstellar” coming in around $22 million.

The lowest estimates for “Big Hero 6” were coming in between $55 million and $60 million so the race could turn out to be a nail-biter by the end of the weekend.

Both “Big Hero 6” and “Interstellar” have budgets of $165 million; both have impressive critical reception with “Big Hero” at 90% and “Interstellar” at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes; and both are opening at over 3,500 U.S. locations.

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” put up impressive numbers in its first two days in limited release, including $3.6 million from previews. “Big Hero 6” performed respectably on Thursday night with $1.4 million — a solid number for a toon.

The weekend offers a startling contrast to the Halloween frame, when the second weekend of “Ouija” edged out the opening of “Nightcrawler” with $10.7 million. Both “Big Hero 6” and “Interstellar” may take in five times that amount, representing only the fourth time in box office history that two films have opened to more than $50 million on the same weekend — the last time being a year and a half ago when “World War Z” and “Monster’s University” both managed the feat.

With moviegoers flocking back to multiplexes, the weekend’s overall business should finish in the same range as a year ago when “Thor: The Dark World” opened to $85.7 million.

“Interstellar,” Nolan’s meditation on wormholes, ecological disaster and the enduring appeal of Matthew McConaughey, is showing at in 3,561 locations, 369 of which are Imax. Audiences will also be able to see the picture on film stock instead of digital projection in 250 film locations and 42 Imax locations.

Fans of Nolan have been anticipating “Interstellar” for months and Matthew McConaughey’s starring role should validate his power at the box office. Paramount Pictures is distributing the $165 million production Stateside, with Warner Bros. handling the foreign rollout.

Foreign markets began opening on Wednesday and had generated $9.7 million in two days, led by $1.8 million for Korea and $1.3 million for Russia.

“Big Hero 6″ follows a science prodigy and his lovable robot. It’s co-directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”) the film’s voice cast features Scott Adsit, Damon Wayans Jr. and Maya Rudolph.

Open Road’s “Nightcrawler” should finish an extremely distant third with $5 million, followed by Fox’s sixth weekend of “Gone Girl,” Sony’s fourth weekend of “Fury” and Universal’s third weekend of “Ouija” — all at about $4 million.