There were two wide releases over the weekend, both backed by two big brands. On one side was the reviving reputation of Walt Disney Animation and on the other was the undying love for a Christopher Nolan film. Both the movies opened strong but it is Disney’s Big Hero 6 which took the top spot at the domestic box-office with $56.2 million as against Interstellar‘s $50 million. These are good openings for both films but not mind-boggling numbers. So time for some analysis.
The opening of Big Hero 6 is yet another feather in the cap of the ‘new’ Walt Disney Animation Studios which has fought its way back in this tough animation industry. Though the $56.2 million opening is a bit off from the opening of last year’s Frozen ($67.4 million), it is still the second-best in the list of Disney animated movies released since the studio’s revamp in 2007. While a repeat of the success seen by Frozen is highly unlikely, Big Hero 6 should manage somewhere around $200 million at the domestic box-office in its theatrical run as animated flicks usually see relatively lower drops in subsequent weeks. The question now would be how much can Big Hero 6 manage in the international markets. Wreck-It Ralph made $281 million, Tangled earned $391 million and Frozen had a staggering $873 collection from foreign markets alone. I do expect Big Hero 6 to benefit from the success of Frozen internationally, where the brand of Disney has received an uplift. The reviews of the movie are strong too, which would of course help. It is difficult to pin a number at which Big Hero 6 is headed, but considering the production budget of $165 million, I would believe that Disney is looking at figures north of $500 million worldwide (i.e. domestic + foreign). Will it join the $700 million club by the end of its run? That is going to be a tough ask!
Christopher Nolan’s much awaited Interstellar hit the screens finally, though now it seems that timing the release along side Big Hero 6 may not have been that wise a decision. Nonetheless, a $50 million opening is still a strong start at the domestic box-office, though it is behind the opening of last year’s Gravity ($55.8 million), another acclaimed space-centric film, and also of Nolan’s previous non-Batman flick, Inception ($62.7 million). It seems that the die-hard Nolan fans walked into the theatres as was expected, but as for the rest, the heavy science-fiction elements which were brought out in the promos acted as a deterrent. While Gravity grew further in its reach last year through some great word-of-mouth, I think Interstellar may suffer from the fanbase effect wherein the ones who were eagerly looking forward to the movie have already seen it and that would lead to a sharper fall in the second week. The domestic run is not going to be too satisfactory for Interstellar with likely earnings lower than $200 million. But the movie is surely going to transcend the shores of North America and storm the world. Christopher Nolan’s immaculate reputation as a director runs across the globe and that is where this movie is bound to score. It has already earned $80 million in the foreign markets, and I would be surprised if this movie does not come close to $500 million in its foreign earnings alone (just for comparison, Inception had earned $532 million in foreign markets). Interstellar has been made on a production budget of $165 million, same as that of Big Hero 6 (some coincidence!), and so if its earnings turn out in line with what I initially gather than it would be a big financial success indeed. Again, will it manage to join the $700 million club, time will tell.
Beyond these two movies, there is nothing much to take away from the box-office results. Gone Girl has crossed the $300 million mark worldwide, which is quite an achievement for a movie of this genre, and is about $30 million short of becoming David Fincher’s biggest hit (ahead of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Ouija surprisingly has another weekend with a sub-50% fall, which just rubbishes all the bad reviews around the film. It has earned $57 million worldwide already, which is outstanding, in case you had forgotten that the budget for the movie was a mere $5 million. Nightcrawler has slipped out of the top five at the domestic box-office but managed a decent holdover in its second weekend; the low-budget movie has collected a decent $21 million worldwide so far, though it would be hoping to double that tally by the end of its theatrical run. And finally, the Bill Murray comedy movie St. Vincent has managed to be counted amongst the top five; it has earned close to $28 million as against its $13 million budget.
So a lot has happened on the box-office over the weekend. More battles to be fought next week when Dumb and Dumber To releases along with Beyond the Lights. Will the Jim Carrey comedy flick manage to topple the holdovers? In a week, we will know!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Big Hero 6 ($56.2 million)
2. Interstellar ($50.0 million)
3. Gone Girl ($6.1 million; sixth weekend)
4. Ouija ($6.0 million; third weekend)
5. St. Vincent ($5.7 million; third weekend)