In the immortal words of Bill Nye, science rules—especially when it involves funny robots. Two valentines to geeks, technology, and helpful talking machines dominated the box-office this weekend, though the hard science of Interstellar ultimately, narrowly lost out to the soft, friendly, balloon-like science of Big Hero 6. Buoyed by its Baymax-heavy advertisements, Disney’s fledgling animated addition to the Marvel empire made $56.2 million—a hair more than Nolan’s earnest space odyssey, which grossed an estimated $50 million over two more days and on about 200 fewer screens (including some IMAX ones). Perhaps the Interstellar team should have played up the presence of robotic crewman TARS, whose deadpan asides add some much-needed levity to scenes of Matthew McConaughey crying and/or spouting exposition.
Big Hero 6 opened stronger than any 2014 animated offering that didn’t incessantly insist, in irresistible song, that everything is awesome. It did especially well for a non-sequel, though one could argue that the Marvel logo sort of makes it a franchise extension—but only sort of, as Hiro and company technically don’t belong to the same cinematic universe as Tony Stark and company. (In other words, don’t hold your breath, or stay in your seat, for an Ultron cameo during the end credits.) The film’s “A” CinemaScore suggests a crowd-pleaser with legs, whereas the “B+” bestowed upon Interstellar—a mixed reaction, because CinemaScore is stupid—hints at the word-of-mouth problems Nolan’s movie could have going forward. It’s a daringly un-commercial movie, at least in some respects, and the nearly three-hour runtime—with no promise of a caped superhero to fill those many minutes—could spell a steep fall-off in week two.
According to Box Office Mojo, only four times ever have two movies opened north of $50 million—and in each instance, a big-screen cartoon was one of said movies. Understandably, this $100-plus million of ticket sales didn’t allow for much business elsewhere. The rest of the top 10 was occupied by October holdovers, all posting modest profits, none costarring mechanized companions. The one notable success story among the remainders was also, incidentally, a salute to science: The Theory Of Everything, whose perfunctory discussion of wormholes makes it a sort of middlebrow-biopic companion to Interstellar, grossed a healthy $207,000 on just five screens. Credit, perhaps, the focus on Stephen Hawking, whose SGD-aided wisecracks give Baymax and TARS a run for their comic-relief money.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.