Box Office Results: Big Hero 6 Beats Out Interstellar in Early Holiday Season Face-Off

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The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

For the first time since June when Sony’s 22 Jump Street took on DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, two movies were released with enough demand so that both opened with more than $50 million (based on estimates). Like that weekend, one movie was expected to open better than the other but ended up settling for second place; in this case, it was the animated movie that won the first weekend of the holiday movie season.

Walt Disney Studios Animation opened their latest animated movie, the superhero action-adventure Big Hero 6, in 3,761 theaters on Thursday night. After grossing an estimated $15.8 million on Friday, it had a strong Saturday bump from family business to bring its weekend total to an estimated $56.2 million. With families making up 72% of its business, split evenly between male and female, and an “A” CinemaScore, the movie should continue to do well between now and Thanksgiving. Big Hero 6 added another $7.6 million in 17 international markets in its third weekend overseas bringing its total outside North America to $23 million.

Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan’s anticipated outer space epic Interstellar (Paramount), starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and more, opened on Wednesday in select theaters that had film projection capabilities including 70mm IMAX (249 theaters total) where it grossed $2.1 million in advance of its nationwide expansion Thursday night. It ended up with an estimated $50 million over the weekend in 3,561 theaters, averaging $14 thousand per location compared to Big Hero 6‘s $15 thousand. (What’s ironic about the weekend’s hotly-contested box office battle is that both movies had a reported production budget of $165 million.)

Interstellar added another $80 million this weekend in the international territories where it opened, including Korea with $14.1 million on 1,310 screens, the UK with $8.4 million on 1,298 screens, Russia, France, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Brazil and more. It has grossed $132.2 million globally in its opening weekend with key markets like China and Japan still to come.

Nolan’s latest was boosted by his continued relationship with IMAX, grossing $20.6 million in its global IMAX release, beating the previous November IMAX opening record set by last year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. $13.4 million of its domestic gross can be credited to the 368 domestic IMAX screens which saw sold out showings all weekend. With a per-screen average of over $36,000, IMAX engagements accounted for 19 of the top 20 showings in North America. Internationally, Interstellar grossed $7.2 million on 206 IMAX screens, again with an impressive per-theater average of $35,000 per screen with some territories like Australia and Korea doing as much as $76 thousand per screen.

David Fincher’s Gone Girl (20th Century Fox), starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, showed rare upwards momentum by moving up to third place with $6.1 million (down 28%) after two weeks at #4. It has grossed $145.4 million domestically so far.

It moved ahead of last week’s #1, the low-budget horror film Ouija (Universal), which added another $6 million for a three-week gross of $43.5 million.

The Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy comedy St. Vincent (The Weinstein Co.) also continued to hold up well in its wide release with $5.7 million in 2,455 theaters for fifth place and a $27.4 million gross so far.

After being defeated in a tight race for the #1 spot in its opening weekend, the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller Nightcrawler (Open Road) had an even tougher second weekend. While it only dropped 47% from its opening weekend take, it was knocked down to #6 as it took on two new blockbusters and the stronger movies still in theaters. It’s grossed just under $20 million so far.

It was just slightly ahead of Brad Pitt’s WWII epic Fury, which added $5.5 million this weekend to bring its domestic total to $69.3 million. The David Ayer-directed movie earned another $7.1 million overseas to bring its international total to $51.5 million.

The Keanu Reeves revenge thriller John Wick (Lionsgate) took eighth place with $4.1 million and has earned a total of just under $35 million.

The last two spots in the Top 10 were filled by the returning family films Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Disney) and the animated The Book of Life (20th Century Fox) with $3.5 and $2.8 million, respectively, the latter dropping over 64% from Halloween weekend. The former has grossed $55 million to the latter’s $42.1 million with one extra week under its belt.

The Top 10 accumulated an estimated $145.7 million, which was down $12 million from this weekend last year when Marvel Studios’ sequel Thor: The Dark World won the weekend with $85.7 million.

The Stephen Hawking story as told in The Theory of Everything (Focus Features), starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, grossed $207 thousand in its opening weekend in 5 theaters in New York and L.A., averaging $41.4 thousand per location. With 62% of its audience being female and high ratings among varying demographics, it should continue to do well as it expands.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.