Big Hero 6 soars at box office
Disney's animated adventure Big Hero 6, featuring the inflatable robot Baymax and his prodigy pal Hiro from the Marvel comic book, has debuted in first place at the US weekend box office with 56.2 million dollars (£35.3 million), according to studio estimates.
Paramount's space saga Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as astronauts, took off in second place with 50 million dollars (£31.4 million), estimates said.
Before launching in more than 3,500 cinemas this weekend, writer-director Christopher Nolan's Interstellar played for two days in about 250 venues equipped to project the movie on film - The Dark Knight filmmaker's preferred method of showcasing his creations.
Interstellar opened below Nolan's last film, the mind-bending thriller Inception, which conjured up 62.8 million dollars (£39.4 million) when it debuted in 2010. Nolan's sci-fi odyssey also wasn't in the orbit of last year's 55.8 million dollar (£35.1 million) opening for Paramount's previous space epic, Gravity. Interstellar has a hefty running time of 169 minutes, while Gravity clocked in at 91 minutes.
"The difference is Interstellar isn't in 3D, and certainly the running time on our film does change the play pattern in that you lose an evening show," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's head of domestic marketing and distribution. "Given those factors, we did spectacularly well. Gravity also opened by itself. We had another big film in the marketplace."
If the estimates hold up, this weekend will mark the fourth time in box office history that a pair of films both opened with 50 million dollars or above. The previous match-ups were Monsters University and World War Z in 2013, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Prometheus in 2012, and WALL-E and Wanted in 2008. In each instance, the animated option came out on top.
"Both movies were able to do well without cannibalising each other's audiences," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak. "By opening a diversity of product against each other, the industry can expand the marketplace. It's a perfect example of counterprogramming. It paid off for the industry, and it just doesn't happen that often."
Interstellar, which cost a reported 165 million dollars (£103 million) and is being distributed by Warner Bros internationally, dominated overseas, earning an additional 80 million dollars (£50.3 million) from 62 markets, including the United Kingdom, South Korea, Russia and France. The film is set to open in China on November 12.