This was a more interesting box office weekend than most. There were two ginormous movies coming out at the same time, both sporting identical production budgets ($165m), and both featuring a group of scientists/nerds banding together to save the world. Of course, one of them was the ultra-serious, yet surprisingly sentimental Interstellar, and the other was Big Hero 6, two films with wildly different approaches to vaguely similar subject matter. Prior to the weekend, it looked as if Big Hero 6 was going to emerge the victor, but Interstellar was still going to finish with a 5-day debut (it opened in 250 theaters on Wednesday) just south of $60m. If so, that would have made this the 4th weekend in history to feature two movies open with over $50m at the same time. For a time, it appeared as if that was exactly what happened, with Paramount Pictures estimating Interstellar had made exactly $50m over the weekend. Now, the actual box office totals are in, and, no, this was not the fourth weekend with two debuting over $50m. We still came dang close, though.
Let’s do the numbers:
Top 10 Actual Domestic Totals (11/07-11/09)
- Weekend Gross=$56.2 million
- Budget=$165 million
Foreign: $7.3m in its third weekend in 17 overseas territories, with Russia far and away the leading market, accounting for $18.2m of Big Hero’s $23m international haul. This puts Big Hero 6‘s worldwide total at $79.2m.
Disney Animation Studios, a production arm the Mickey Mouse house first established in 2007, is clearly on a roll right now. Big Hero 6 took on the unsinkable Christopher Nolan and beat him handily, posting the second best opening weekend in Disney Animation Studios history, behind Frozen ($67m), ahead of Wreck-It Ralph ($49m), Tangled ($48m), Bolt ($26m), etc. It was also the second best debut for an animated film this year, trailing The LEGO Movie’s $69m. In many ways, Disney Animation is the new Pixar, a confusing distinction since they are separate entities that are both owned by Disney and run by John Lasseter. As the new Pixar, they have developed a dependable brand recognition all their own equaling guaranteed box office success. Case in point, they chose not to over-emphasize the fact that Big Hero 6 is adapted from a Marvel Comics property, but instead pitched this more along the traditional lines of “From the people who brought you Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph…” and emphasized the adorable sidekick character Baymax as an unbeatable kid magnet. In fact, they didn’t even push this as being an animated super hero movie nearly as much as they could have. Its opening performance was never going to equal Frozen, and most of the reviews seem to agree the actual quality of the film is perhaps a step below Frozen (depending on how much you like musicals). So, it’s not at all going to come close to replicating Frozen‘s insane box office marathon to a worldwide total over $1 billion. Something closer to Wreck-It Ralph‘s $189m domestic/$471m worldwide is more realistic. One thing is for certain: they are going to sell a crap-ton of Baymax toys.
- Weekend Gross=$47.5 million
- Total Gross to Date=$49.6 million (opened in 250 theaters on Wednesday)
- Budget=$165 million
Foreign: $82.9m from 62 countries this weekend, including #1 openings in Korea, UK, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil (pretty much everywhere, actually). This adds up to a worldwide debut of $130.4m.
Why do we fall? That was the question Christopher Nolan had Bruce Wayne’s father ask him in Batman Begins. The answer, of course, is that we fall so we can get back up again. Well, Interstellar is the first Christopher Nolan movie not to debut at #1 since Insomnia in 2002, and it’s his lowest opening weekend total since The Prestige opened with $14.8m in 2006. So, the question now is whether or not this is what it looks like when Christopher Nolan falls. The answer is, eh, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Falling just south of 3 hours, Interstellar is the longest film of Nolan’s career, thus limiting the number of showings per day. The similarly long Dark Knight Rises opened in 4,400 theaters domestically, thus counteracting the whole “limited number of showings” thing, whereas Interstellar couldn’t equal that, opening in just over 3,500 theaters. Moreover, something like Dark Knight Rises was the conclusion to a beloved film trilogy, and Inception had somehow gained a status as being something the film critics of America challenged all of us to go see. The emerging narrative was that most movies assume the worst of our collective intellect whereas Inception challenged us to think yet still be entertained by a big budget blockbuster. As Barney Stinson would say, challenge accepted! Interstellar doesn’t really have that element to its advertising nor does it have a wave of positive critical word-of-mouth. Audiences, on the other hand, seem to like it just as much as they did Inception, giving it an identical CinemaScore (B+). Paramount is banking on it posting similar repeat business to Inception, telling THR, “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.”
Of course, Paramount is only getting half the story here. Interstellar was originally a Steven Spielberg film at Paramount, and once Nolan took over Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, who’d been behind him since Batman Begins, wanted a piece of the action. So, a partnership was born, with Paramount taking domestic distribution and Warner Bros. handling international distribution. As a capper, WB had to agree to let Paramount co-finance a future Friday the 13th reboot as well as a long-awaited sequel to South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut at some point down the road. So far, WB is getting the better end of the deal as Interstellar opened up pretty much everywhere around the world this weekend, except for China, Japan, and a couple of other territories. WB is saying that Interstellar not only debuted at #1 in pretty much every single territory but that it is somehow actually outpacing Gravity in every major market, an astounding claim considering that while Interstellar flirts with a 3 hour running length Gravity barely makes it to 90 minutes.
Truly, this is all fairly amazing business for an original concept – not a sequel, no comic book origin, etc. In fact, it set an IMAX record for a 2D, non-sequel. The story going forward will be how well Interstellar holds up. This was not a cheap movie to make and market. They need it to keep making lots and lots of money. So does Big Hero 6. Why start doubting Christopher Nolan now?
- Weekend Gross=$6.2 million (-27% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$145.5 million
- Budget=$61 million
Foreign: $8.7m this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $157.8m/$303.3m. The UK is the leading foreign market with $33.3m to date, followed by Australia with $20.7m.
To this point, Gone Girl has yet to decline more than 37% weekend-to-weekend, and that’s after 6 weeks in theaters. That’s a word of mouth on par with what Gravity did in its first 6 weeks last October into November, although obviously the amount of money Gravity was raking in was higher.
- Weekend Gross=$5.8 million (-45% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$43.3 million
- Budget=$5m (give or take)
Foreign: $3m from 19 holdover markets for an updated international/worldwide split of $13.3m/$56.6m.
At one point, Ouija was supposed to be a $150m budget special effects extravaganza produced by Michael Bay, part of Universal’s efforts to exploit any and all of the Hasbro and Parker Pros. board games. That was all abandoned after the failure of Battleship in 2012, and producer Jason Blum picked it up from the scrap heap and cranked a micro-budget horror flick out of it. Critics hate the thing, opening night audiences seemed to agree, giving it “C” on CinemaScore, yet here we are in its third week, marveling that it’s still in the top 5, grossing 11 times its budget at the worldwide box office at this point.
- Weekend Gross=$5.6 million (-36% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$69.3 million
- Budget=$68 million
Foreign: Fury netted $7.1m from 44 international markets this weekend, bringing its overseas total up to $51.1m and worldwide to $120.8m
The most recent WWII movie, Monuments Men ended up with $78m domestic/$155m worldwide, achievable if not outright beatable totals for Fury. However, the knock on Monuments‘ performance also applies to Fury – Is all of this actually good enough for a film which cost around $70m to make, especially when you remember that the studio has to roughly split ticket sales 50/50 with the domestic theaters and closer to 60/40 if not worse with foreign theaters?
- Weekend Gross=$5.4 million (-25% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$27 million
- Budget=They’re Not Telling
Foreign: Its minimal foreign box office has yet to eclipse $400,000.
Take About a Boy, mix in a little bit of Bad Words, change the surrogate father-son dynamic of those stories to surrogate grandfather-grandson, and you’ve got St. Vincent, which played in limited release for 2 weeks, expanded wide, added 270 more theaters the next weekend, and pulled out of nearly 100 theaters this weekend. Along the way, it keeps posting strong holds (like the -25% this weekend) and hovering around the middle of the top 10.
- Weekend Gross=$5.3 million (-49% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$19.6 million
- Budget=They’d rather not say
Foreign: Grossed $1m from 8 international markets for a foreign/worldwide split of $4m/$23.6m
So far, Nightcrawler is profiling comparably to End of Watch (another critically adored Jake Gyllenhaal movie) and Drive (Ryan Goslin’s seemingly instant cult classic), but it is trailing Drive’s pace by a couple million and End of Watch‘s by $6m. Drive ultimately ended up with $35m domestic and End of Watch with $41m, but they both did so as movies released in mid-September. Nightcrawler is facing a tougher fight for attention.
- Weekend Gross=$4.1 million (-48% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$34.8 million
- Budget=$20-25 million
Foreign: Currently, in limited international play its foreign/worldwide split is up to $8m/$42.8m.
We’ve had a run of these Taken-esque revenge/hitman/assassin films lately, and it looks like John Wick is going to fall slightly ahead of the ones that failed to make much of an impression domestically (A Walk Among the Tombstones-$26m, 3 Days to Kill-$30m, Brick Mansions-$20m) but way, way, way behind something like The Equalizer ($98m). Looking at that budget and the current worldwide gross, though, you could guess that John Wick‘s not too far off from at least breaking even (not factoring in marketing), but as a movie made independently and then sold to various distributors (Lionsgate/Summit is distributing it here) it’s surely a bit more complicated than that.
- Weekend Gross=$3.5 million (-46.2% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$59.2 million
- Budget=$28 million
Foreign: $2.3m this weekend, including debuts in Spain, Portugal, and Turkey. Overall, Alexander‘s international/worldwide split stands at $19m/$78.5m, with plenty more foreign openings scheduled into early next year.
Worldwide, Alexander… is now the biggest live-action family film adaptation of a children’s book since the third Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Dog Days, $77.1m).
- Weekend Gross=$2.7 million (-66% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$45.1 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: $3.6m from 23 holdover markets for a new international/worldwide split of $34.5m/$79.6m. Its biggest foreign market is Mexico ($10.1m).
As you’d expect with Big Hero 6 debuting, Book of Life took a huge hit, and will now end with a total roughly on par with The Boxtrolls ($49m domestic). The Boxtrolls has at least managed to equal that total overseas, actually making it the highest foreign grossing film in Laika history, but Book of Life is having a slightly rougher go of it. For now. It’s still only playing in 23 markets.
What Dropped Out of the Top 10?:
The Judge (#9 to #12) and Dracula Untold (#10 to #15). Untold faded fast domestically, but solid international play has pushed its worldwide total up to $202m.
What About Birdman?:
Still knock, knock, knocking on Top 10’s door, finishing at #11 despite only slipping 3% from last weekend’s total. It is still only playing in 460 theaters, 140 short of a wide release.
What About Guardians of the Galaxy?:
- Iron Man 3 – $121.2m
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – $116.4m
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $115.6m
- Guardians of the Galaxy – $95.7m
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $94.4m
- The Avengers – $81.1m
- Man of Steel – $63.4m
- Thor: The Dark World – $55.3m
- The Dark Knight Rises – $52.7m
- The Amazing Spider-Man 1 – $48.8m
- The Wolverine – $40.5m
What About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & The Maze Runner?:
They’re gone from domestic theaters, but TMNT and The Maze Runner continue expanding internationally, making $17.7m and $9.4m respectively this weekend. TMNT was #1 for the second weekend in a row in China, amassing a total of $50.8m in the territory to this point. That’s stealing a bit of Maze Runner’s thunder which is also playing in China but has only made a little over $20m there so far. TMNT is now up to $273m foreign/$464m worldwide, and Maze Runner to $224m foreign/$323m worldwide. That means TMNT has made around $150m more worldwide than either of the G.I. Joe films, and Maze Runner is almost $100m up on Divergent internationally.
What’s Up Next?:
Dumb and Dumber To. So, yeah, that’s happening.