The hottest box office battle of the year heats up this weekend as Paramount’s “Interstellar” and Disney’s “Big Hero 6” jockey for moviegoers in theaters everywhere. Expect a record-breaking weekend as both films are already on track to surpass $50 million. “Interstellar,” with its weekday platform release on 70mm and 35mm and Imax already underway, may have the edge, earning a possible five-day total of $69 million including a $62 million total for the three-day weekend proper. “Big Hero 6” could snatch $58 million for the three-day weekend.
If projections prove true, this will only be the fourth weekend in moviegoing history to have two films sharing the same marquee space beat $50 million each. The last time, observes THR, was Summer 2013 when “World War Z” and “Monsters University” went neck-and-neck for the top spot, eyeing demos like those “Interstellar” and “Big Hero 6” are targeting. (Box Office Mojo’s overall holiday projections are more cynical about “Interstellar”‘s fates than other pundits’.)
“Interstellar” opened Wednesday in 240 theaters on 35mm and 70mm (41 of which are Imax) and as the $1.5 million opening night estimate is through the roof, the $165 million outer-space epic could easily pull in $5 or $6 million before its wide opening on 3500 locations Friday (369 Imax). Nolan has a strong track record for advance sell-outs and booming Thursday midnight business. Last night’s Arclight screenings sold out early, and other exhibitors are already reporting sell outs this week on Twitter (including for Friday’s IMAX premiere).
But for the three-day weekend, whatever relative numbers shake out, “Big Hero” will sell more tickets, with lower admission prices for kids and on family-friendly matinee screenings. But the lower cost also means a lower total take for “Big Hero” which will have to contend with the pricier IMAX tickets boosting “Interstellar.” The Arclight, whose screens “Interstellar” will flood this weekend, won’t be increasing admission prices for 70mm screenings in the Dome, as was the case for “The Master” in 2012. Back in the day there was no increase, but it might have been an excuse to try because the equipment issue is intense and has challenged a lot of exhibitors lacking the means to present Christopher Nolan’s movie the way he would like. The Arclight also has to compete with the nearby TLC Chinese Theatre, which is already screening the film in 70mm IMAX. Critics say this is the way to see it.
Whatever happens, “Interstellar” and “Big Hero 6” will both turn out winners, and should expect a long and healthy life at the Fall box office, which hasn’t seen this buzzy a weekend since “Guardians of the Galaxy” ruled the Summer.