Last weekend was a neck-and-neck battle at the box office between Nightcrawler and Ouija — Ouija won, but just barely—but this weekend is about to take that drama and multiply it by, oh, five or six: While Nightcrawler and Ouija each grossed in the $10 million range, this weekends openers are expected to gross at least $50 million each. The stakes are just a tad bit higher, to say the least.
That’s because this weekend’s huge openings are Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated Interstellar and Disney’s family-friendly Big Hero 6. Nolan’s films have a good history of strong opening weekends—2010’s Inception opened at #1 its first weekend with $62.8 million; 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises with $160.9 million—but they’ve also never had to compete with a Disney film that’s also debuting. And, as proven by the still-going hype over 2013’s Frozen, a Disney film isn’t weak competition.
The Theory of Everything, a historical drama based on Stephen and Jane Hawking’s relationship starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, hits five theaters this weekend—meaning it won’t break into the top 5. But here are our predictions for who will:
1. Interstellar — $60 million
Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathway, Michael Caine, and Jessica Chastain star in Interstellar, therefore giving the film an air of prestige that would attract cinema-goers no matter the director or premise. But the director and premise help: Nolan is big enough that even causal moviegoers know who he is, and he’s revealed little about the movie so far other than that it’s mostly set in space. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, was similar in that it had a big-name director with secretive promotion that resulted in people flocking to theaters for its Oct. 2013 opening weekend. It ended up grossing $55.8 million that first weekend, beating Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (then in its second week) by over $35 million.
Although critics don’t by any means unanimously adore the film—it currently has a 72 percent on Rotten Tomatoes —that shouldn’t matter to many viewers who will see the movie no matter what simply because it’s an event film. It helps that even critics who don’t love the movie as a whole praise the stunning visuals, which audiences can witness on one of the 369 IMAX screens it’ll be playing on this weekend. (It’ll also be playing on about 3,000 regular ol’ screens for those who don’t want to shell out the cash for the IMAX experience.)
2. Big Hero 6 — $57 million
Big Hero 6 will likely trail closely behind Interstellar thanks to its status as a Disney animated movie. Parents want to take their kids to the movies, as evidenced by The Book of Life staying in the top 5 even during its third week — but Book of Life, an animated film based on Mexico’s Day of the Dead, isn’t as relevant now that the spooky holidays are over, giving Big Hero 6 the perfect opportunity to edge in as the family favorite. The $165 million action comedy will be showing in about 3,700 theaters —just 200 more than Interstellar —and will be a huge draw for not just families, but for Disney fanatics and for people who don’t like the idea of spending their Friday or Saturday night with a long, science-heavy space-set movie.
3. Gone Girl —$6 million
Gone Girl has to die out sometime, but it probably won’t be this weekend. The film’s weekend gross dropped only 23 percent between the weekends of Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, and it’s set to decrease a similar amount this time around, leaving the weekend’s final total at around 6 million.
4. Nightcrawler — $5.7 million
Sure, Nightcrawler lost to Ouija last weekend, but now that Halloween’s over, audiences’ interest in Ouija has surely waned. While that doesn’t mean their interest in Nightcrawler has increased, it does mean those who saw Ouija instead last weekend might head to theaters to catch up the only other slightly scary, slightly new offering. Plus, the buzz surrounding Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as a creepy, sociopathic journalist might encourage viewers to see what all the hype is about.
5. Fury — $5.2 million
Now in its fourth weekend, the World War II drama isn’t set to make any sort of groundbreaking figure, but it should stay in the top 5 partly because of its all-star cast —okay, more like all-star cast member, Brad Pitt —and because it’s an easy alternative for those who want to go to the movies this weekend but don’t want to fight over seats. While it’s not a must-see, it is a recommended see: It has a CinemaScore of A- and 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. (For reference, Gone Girl has a B CinemaScore and Nightcrawler got a B-.)