‘Big Hero 6’ outpaces ‘Interstellar’

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The weekend's battle between two big-budget science fiction adventures wasn't quite as close as expected.

Disney Animation's "Big Hero 6" scored a solid win, with the tale of a boy and his inflatable robot ringing up an estimated $56.2 million in ticket sales.

Ads for the movie played up the connection to the studio's recent hits, including "Wreck-It Ralph" and especially "Frozen."

The Christopher Nolan space epic "Interstellar" couldn't keep pace, bringing in an estimated $50 million -- and most observers think that number is more likely to fall than to rise when final numbers are released Monday afternoon.

Matthew McConaughey stars as the pilot of a space expedition which leaves a dying Earth to search for a new home for humanity.

If the "Interstellar" total holds, it'll be just the fourth time that two films debuted with $50 million or more in the same weekend. Each time that's happened, the animated film beat the live-action effort: "WALL-E" won out over "Wanted" in 2008; "Madagascar 3" beat "Prometheus" in 2012; and "Monsters U." surpassed "World War Z" in 2013.

Hollywood number-crunchers will have a field day with this weekend's data: How did the extra money from IMAX tickets for "Interstellar" compare with the premium on 3D tickets for "Big Hero 6"? And what about the discounted child tickets for the Disney flick?

There's also the fact that "Interstellar" is a full hour longer -- so did that mean more showings for "Hero," leading to more tickets sold? One set of stats sums it up: "Hero" opened in 200 more theaters, but still averaged nearly $1,000 more per theater. In short, more people simply wanted to see "Big Hero 6."

Moviegoers also still want to see "Gone Girl" as well. The drama starring Ben Affleck continues to have a long box office tail, staying in the Top 5 in its sixth weekend and closing in on $150 million in domestic grosses. In limited release, "The Theory of Everything," starring Oscar favorite Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, opened very strong: an estimated $206,000 in just five theaters.

With "Dumb and Dumber To" and "Beyond The Lights" the only new wide releases next weekend, it's likely "Hero" and "Interstellar" each will have one more shot at No. 1; then "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" figures to blow everyone else out of the water when it opens on November 21.

Here are the weekend domestic box office estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co., with final numbers available Monday afternoon:

1. "Big Hero 6" -- $56.2 million

2. "Interstellar" -- $50 million

3. "Gone Girl" -- $6.1 million ($145.4 million total)

4. "Ouija" -- $6 million ($43.5 million total)

5. "St. Vincent" -- $5.7 million ($27.4 million total)