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Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ Wins Weekend Over ‘Interstellar’

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By Saba Hamedy

Los Angeles Times

(MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Disney’s “Big Hero 6” soared past Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” at the box office this weekend, as both big-budget films had strong launches.

According to studio estimates, Disney’s animated action comedy grossed $56.2 million in the U.S. and Canada, edging out Nolan’s space drama. “Interstellar” pulled in $52.2 million, which covers the film’s early limited release on Tuesday evening and wide release on Friday.

If the early estimates hold up, for only the fourth time in history two films would have grossed more than $50 million apiece in their shared opening weekend. The only other films to accomplish that feat were “Monsters University” and “World War Z” in June 2013, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Prometheus” in June 2012, and “Wanted” and “Wall-E” in June 2008.

Despite the “Interstellar” and “Big Hero 6” numbers, the U.S. and Canadian box office is still down 7 percent from the same weekend last year and down 3.8 percent year-to-date, according to research firm Rentrak.

Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” which cost about $165 million to make, attracted largely younger crowds and families: An estimated 58 percent of moviegoers were 25 and younger, and 70 percent were families. The audience was evenly split male-female.

“It’s just ahead of what we said we thought we’d do coming into the weekend. It sets us up in a really great way for a run ahead,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution. “It’s encouraging to have been ahead of a movie like ‘Interstellar.’ ”

“Big Hero 6” has been well received: It earned an A grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore and a 91 percent “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Disney veterans Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), the CG-animated film follows a rebellious robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) and a guileless health care robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit).

Meanwhile, Nolan’s almost-three-hour film attracted largely older crowds. An estimated 75 percent of moviegoers were 25 and older. The audience was 52 percent male.

The film follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an engineer and pilot who has been called upon to find a hospitable new planet because Earth is turning into a giant dust bowl. Co-financed by Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., the science drama cost about $165 million to make.

“This is definitely the broadest appeal movie that’s going to be in the marketplace this November,” said Rob Moore, Paramount’s vice chairman. “You have a lot of audiences that really connect with the film.”

Paramount began releasing “Interstellar” in select theaters early last week. Advance showings of the space drama played on 240 film-only screens — including 70mm Imax, 70mm and 35mm — in 77 markets across the U.S. and Canada before it expanded to more theaters.

Imax generated its largest percentage of box office ever for a first-run release; the film grossed $13.4 million on 368 Imax screens, a per-screen average of more than $36,000. The film was also Imax’s best opening for a November release. “Skyfall” held the previous record with $12.6 million.

Paramount hoped that the midweek release would help generate buzz for the film. It used a similar tactic in 2011 with the launch of “Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol” five days before the film opened in wide release. The action film, starring Tom Cruise, went on to gross about $209.4 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Heavy marketing also played a large part in the release of “Interstellar.” The studios partnered with Fandango and Vice Media’s Motherboard channel to create a sweepstakes that would send one ticket buyer to the edge of space.

In its sixth weekend in theaters, David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” jumped from fourth to third place at the box office. The 20th Century Fox film, which pulled in $6.1 million, has a domestic total of $145.4 million to date.

After two weekends on top, Universal Pictures’ “Ouija” fell to No. 4. The PG-13 film added $6 million this weekend, making its cumulative domestic gross about $43.5 million.

The Weinstein Co.’s “St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray, rounded out the top five in its fifth weekend. It pulled in $5.7 million, raising its domestic total to $27.4 million.

In limited release, Focus Features’ “The Theory of Everything” also did well. It grossed $207,000 in five locations, a per-location average of $41,400.

©2014 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ Wins Weekend Over ‘Interstellar’