The wide screen format’s commitment to play the science fiction film until “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” hits theaters on Dec. 17 meant that it could not show “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” when it debuted last weekend. That required the company to miss out on the year’s biggest opening.
Keeping “Interstellar” on its large screens, which charge at least $3 more than the average movie ticket, has made it the preferred destination for moviegoers to experience wormholes, distant planets and Matthew McConaughey on the biggest possible canvas. The result: “Interstellar” has earned more than a quarter of its domestic gross from 360 Imax locations in the U.S. and roughly 11% of its international haul from the format. If that U.S. percentage holds, it will be the first film in Imax history to crack 25% in terms of market share.
All told, Imax has contributed $31.4 million of the film’s $120.9 million stateside total and $38.7 million of its $330.6 million international total, for a combined $70.1 million worldwide, according to estimates by MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler.
In the short run, Imax may have made more money by swapping out “Interstellar” for the latest “Hunger Games,” but the brand benefits from sticking by Nolan, Handler argues. The director put Imax front and center by shooting an hour of the film with the company’s cameras.
“It’s distinctive,” said Handler. “People are saying ‘you need to see this in Imax.’ And by keeping it in theaters it enables them to deepen their relationship with Christopher Nolan.”
By the end of its run, “Interstellar” will likely rank among the ten biggest releases in Imax history.