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Final numbers show Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar falling short of its projected $50 million debut at the North American box office. The space opus earned $47.5 million for the weekend, putting its five-day launch at $49.7 million and global blastoff at $132.6 million.
Either way, animated family film Big Hero 6 remains the victor with roughly $56 million in ticket sales, continuing Disney Animation Studios’ winning streak following Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.
On Sunday, Paramount put Interstellar‘s three-day estimate at $50 million, and its five-day total at $52.2 million — the movie opened two days early in 250 theaters equipped to project in film — but that changed when Sunday traffic wasn’t as brisk as Paramount expected. The studio partnered with Warner Bros. on the movie.
Heading into the weekend, most expected Interstellar to earn between $50 million and $55 million, but the movie’s lengthy running time — at 169 minutes, it is Nolan’s longest film — and mixed reviews likely impacted turnout. Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as astronauts trying to save the human race, with the ensemble cast also including Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine.
Interstellar marks Nolan’s lowest domestic opening since The Prestige in 2006 ($14.8 million) and is the first of his films since Insomnia in 2002 not to come in at No. 1.
Both Interstellar and Big Hero 6 cost a hefty $165 million to make, so each will need to earn big numbers globally.
Nolan’s film did massive business on Imax and premium large-format screens, with Imax locations alone turning in $13.4 million, a record for a nonsequel and the largest percentage ever of the total gross (25 percent). Interstellar skewed slightly male (52 percent), with 75 percent of the audience over the age of 25.
Paramount believes Interstellar will have strong legs. “Interstellar received a B+ CinemaScore, just like Inception. Christopher Nolan doesn’t make the most straightforward movies. They are compelling and sophisticated, and our assumption is that, similar to Inception, this movie will play for a very, very long time,” said Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore.
Internationally, Interstellar opened to a $82.9 million from 62 markets — up from Sunday’s estimate of $80 million — for a worldwide debut of $132.6 million million. Warners, which is handling the movie overseas, said Interstellar‘s foreign performance is on par with Gravity, no small feat considering Gravity was roughly 90 minutes long. It opened in virtually every country around the globe, save for China (Nov. 12), Japan (Nov. 22) and Venezuela (Dec. 5). Save for a few smaller territories where local titles prevailed, Interstellar came in No. 1.
Big Hero 6, which is rolling out slowly internationally, grossed $7.6 million from 17 markets for an early foreign total of $23 million and a worldwide cume of roughly $79 million. (It opened two weeks earlier in Russia.)
In the U.S., the family film should see strong sales Tuesday because of Veteran’s Day, when many kids will be out of school.
Inspired by Marvel characters, Big Hero 6 chronicles the special bond that develops between Baymax (Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who transforms Baymax and his adrenaline-seeking friends into a band of high-tech heroes determined to help the city of San Fransokyo.
The movie was evenly divided in terms of gender, while families made up 70 percent. For a family film, Big Hero 6 played to more adults than usual.
“I think we went into the weekend hoping that, at the very least, that it would be close. Interstellar is a formidable title to go up against, and Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest living filmmakers, so to beat them by this margin is another sign of the creative momentum underway Disney Animation,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis.
Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolph, Daniel Henney, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell and Alan Tudyk also lend their voices to the 3D movie.
Nov. 10, 11:30 a.m. Updated with final international numbers.
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