The "Interstellar" vs. "Big Hero 6" opening-weekend showdown has been a long time coming - and may prove to be historic dynamic duo at the domestic box-office.
Both films have had strong trailers up for months, strong marketing pushes and strong word-of-mouth.
They also have strong brands. "Interstellar" has Christopher Nolan and recent Oscar winner. However, even that may be superseded by a film that has both the Disney Animation brand on it after "Frozen" AND the Marvel logo attached to it.
As a result, both films were tracking for a $60 million opening weekend. The ironic thing is, "Interstellar" was actually tracking for $79 million opening a couple of months ago.
While this slight decline in expectations may be due in part to a feeling that audiences aren't 100% sure what the film is about or that the visuals aren't as eye-catching as those for last year's "Gravity", it may simply have to do with the fact that "Big Hero 6" has gained the attention of families.
Either way, whoever winds up #1, both films should hit at least $50 million and I think "Big Hero 6" will use the appeal it's trailers have to families to get past $60 million. by the end of this Sunday.
This would follow the patten of the other three times when two films opened over $50 million the same weekend.
On the weekend of June 27, 2008 "Wall-E" grossed $63 million, while "Wanted" collected $50 million.
On the weekend of June 8, 2012, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" grossed $60 million, while "Prometheus" collected $51 million.
On the weekend of June 21, 2013 "Mosters University" grossed an amazing $82 million, which gave it just enough space to finish comfortably ahead of "World War Z", which grossed $66 million.
Every previous time there have been two films opening at over $50 million, the animated film has come out on top.
With it's strong branding and marketing "Big Hero 6" got off to a strong start from the gate. It's $1.4 million Thursday bow was better than that of "Frozen", which grossed $1.2 million during it's Tuesday preview before last Thanksgiving. It also appears off to a much stronger start than "The Lego Movie", which grossed about $400,000 it's preview night.
Disney has to be overjoyed over the Thursday night returns, as kids and families usually flex their box office muscles on weekend days. Thursday’s solid $1.4 million take shows that "Big Hero 6" is also appealing to adults which is great news for the studio.
It means that not only should it's opening weekend be impressive, but that the film may truly break out and have great legs through the Hoidays.
While most have stated that "Big Hero 6" would do slightly better than the $185 million "Wreck-It Ralph" , an impressive weekend, great reviews (it has a stellar 90% Fresh Rating from Rotten Tomatoes) and a film that seems to appeal as much to boys as well as girls indicate it could possibly near the $300 million domestic mark.
Which the 2014 box-office might need to have any hope of eclipsing 2013's total.
It needs "Interstellar" to break out as well. While it may not open as high as previous Nolan films, it's worth noting most of them were released in the summer. The key will be if it has as strong legs as those films. But the closest comparison might be "Skyfall", which opened to $49 million in 2012 around the same time of the year and wound up cracking the $300 million domestic mark.
IMAX is definitely betting that the film will become known as this year's "Gravity", a film that everyone id told they HAVE to see in a THEATER. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" will NOT be appearing on IMAX screens in two weeks, because those screens will still be showing "Interstellar".
We'll see how the weekend shakes out. Either way, it's pretty exciting!