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Interstellar” is building up a head of steam as it barrels towards a box office showdown with “Big Hero 6.”

Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey picked up more than $1.5 million after opening in a limited number of film and Imax showings. The grosses are a combination of Tuesday night screenings, which began at 8 p.m., and Wednesday engagements.

Paramount Pictures, which is distributing the film domestically, released the science-fiction epic in 240 theaters at mid-week, 41 of which are Imax screens. These locations highlight film projection, which Nolan says provides the best visual experience for his work. The decade-long  conversion digital in multiplexes resulted in some theater chains taking film projectors out of mothballs or rehiring projectionists.

Because the early numbers come from such specialized screenings and across a limited number of venues, it makes comparisons with other big-budget films or previous works in the Nolan canon difficult.

“Interstellar” will expand this weekend to 3,500 locations, 369 of which will be in Imax. The film is expected to make in the $55 million range in its opening weekend, and just shy of $58 million from Tuesday through Sunday.

It’s shaping up to be quite a showdown at the multiplexes. Walt Disney Studios is also fielding “Big Hero 6,” which is targeting a much younger crowd, and is on pace to make $55 million. When the dust clears, some analysts project “Big Hero 6” will edge out “Interstellar” to pick up roughly $60 million. It debuts on 3,761 theaters.

Both “Interstellar” and “Big Hero 6” carry production budgets of $165 million.