Nerds Unite! Big Hero 6, Interstellar Take Off
By John Hamann
November 9, 2014
You may hate me for saying this, but with Halloween behind us, it’s time for the holiday movie season, despite it being only the first weekend in November.
Kicking off this year's holiday movie season is Chris Nolan’s Interstellar, the $165 million sci-fi epic that has either enraged or enraptured critics. Also at the plate is Big Hero 6, the $165 million animated flick that combines the power of Marvel and Disney (but more of the latter). Both films are primed to not only be domestic powerhouses, but also designed to be huge international players. They also should roll over some of the 14 wide domestic releases being rolled out between November 14th and December 25th. To be profitable, both films will need a worldwide gross approaching a half billion dollars, so the domestic debuts this weekend are key to their successes. If these two films play successfully in North America they should show similar box office behavior everywhere.
Before we get started, let me say that both openers this weekend were successful, and it’s almost too bad we need to delineate a first place and second place film. Both Interstellar and Big Hero 6 were predicted to open around $55 million, so there isn’t a winner and loser. One film is going to win the weekend at the box office, and the other will live with having one of the biggest opening weekends of all-time while still not finishing at #1. Remember that films like Frozen didn’t open at #1, and only seven films in history have earned over $50 million and finished second. The one-two punch this weekend equals $106.2 million, so after being eviscerated over Halloween weekend, karma is coming around for theater owners.
After opening on Friday in the #2 position behind Interstellar, our number #1 this weekend is the comeback kid flick, Big Hero 6. The Walt Disney Animation feature (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen) got started on Thursday night, earning $1.4 million from previews. This in itself was a strong number, as the core audience would have been in school the next day. The preview number indicated that more than just kids might come out for Big Hero 6, which could be good news going forward for the blockbuster. The Friday amount was $14.4 million, but with Thursday night added in, it became $15.8 million. That’s a few million more than what Wreck-It Ralph debuted to in 2012, as the video game themed film had a first day gross of $13.5 million. I think Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are perfect comparisons, as the two films seem to target boys than more girls and also opened in the same spot in the calendar. Wreck-It Ralph turned that $13.5 million into an opening weekend of $49 million, along with a strong opening weekend multiplier of 3.6.
Big Hero 6 was able to turn its $15.8 million Friday into a weekend gross of $56.2 million, and had a weekend multiplier of 3.6. There is nothing here to disappoint Disney, as Big Hero 6 earned more during its opening weekend than Wreck-it Ralph, Tangled ($48.7 million opening) and Ratatouille ($47 million opening). It wasn’t even that far off from the debut weekend of Cars ($60.1 million). None of these comparisons had to deal with a buzz-heavy film like Interstellar, which took the big IMAX screens some of the bigger theaters away. Interstellar also took up a lot of space in the media leading up to the weekend, so I think Disney should be extremely happy with this debut.