'Big Hero' Bigger Than Interstellar - Week 1 | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 | The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies | Big Hero 6

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'Big Hero' Bigger Than Interstellar - Week 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Big Hero 6
The Penguins of Madagascar
Forgetting the forgettable 2013 opening crop of Ender's Game, Free Birds, and Last Vegas, two actual Hollywood heavyweights took to the multiplexes to take their first stab at the 2014 Holiday Movie Pool crown. Disney armed themselves with an adorable Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and Paramount/Warner Bros. combined to defend themselves with Matthew McConaughey (It's like neither believed in him enough to stand on their own). When faced with comic book cute and McConaughey as "smartest guy in the room," America knew which way to turn.

Big Hero 6 blew the gates off theaters with a $56.2 million opening weekend. This was almost $10 million more than Wreck-It-Ralph started with two years ago. While it probably won't have the soundtrack legs to outlast last year's animated dynamo Frozen (the ending credit song is by Fall Out Boy and Fall Out Boy is to Idina Menzel what Panic At The Disco is to... wait, which one's which, again?), Big Hero 6 certainly opened big enough to be a player in this year's Top Five.

How did Disney do it again? There wasn't even a normal trailer for Big Hero 6 until only a few months before release. People really didn't even know what the movie was going to be about. Instead, relying on more short scenes from the movie or stand alone mini-movies (i.e. the Olaf and reindeer battle for the carrot nose that teased last year's Frozen), Big Hero 6 promised fun, adventure, the right amount of goofiness, and that was enough. While the final product might feel paint-by-numbers outside of Baymax, who's the most lovable air bag in the world, painting something a lot of folks enjoy isn't always a bad thing. Take it from a guy who's sat through the trailer for Paris Hilton's The Hottie and the Nottie.

Even though Interstellar opened well at $47.5 million, it can't help but seem like one of its boosters misfired. We're just a year away from when Gravity became its own black hole and sucked the light away from all other films for a solid month and then still continued to play in theaters forever. This is the first time since 2002 that a Christopher Nolan-directed film didn't open at the top of the box-office (and if you're one of the many that fell asleep during Insomnia, you know why that one didn't quite cut it). There's still time for this film to take off if it can follow in the Gravity boots of "It's something you have to see on the big screen," but didn't we just have that movie a year ago... and it was 90 minutes shorter!

With all the hype and grandeur going into Interstellar, it felt like this could really be Gravity-with-a-plot and go to the next level. In the end, maybe the force of Gravity was something Interstellar was never going to be able to escape. In fact, they mention the word "gravity" a dozen times in the movie, yet they never say "interstellar." Would it really have killed the writers to add the line, "You mean, we have to travel [dramatic pause] interstellar?" Likewise, Anna Hathaway's short black hair can't help but remind you of Sandra Bullock's doo in Gravity. So much so, I started to wonder in the film if Anne should've been in Gravity and Sandy should've been in Interstellar with her fellow Texan. At the end of the day (as Anne might've sang in Les Miz), perhaps the story of one person's survival is more emotionally gripping than someone fighting for the survival of all humankind. Everyone wants Sandy to survive. That snooty meter maid who gave you a ticket anyway even after you got to your car, not so much.

The Top Five If Today Was Martin Luther King Jr. Observance:
#1. Big Hero 6 - $56.2 million
#2. Last Vegas - $49.6 million (includes Wednesday opening in IMAX)
#3. n/a
#4. n/a
#5. n/a


Extra Bonus Section

Since there's not always a lot to talk about in the Wee 1 report, I like to share my top five picks and the (genius) rationale behind them. Looking back, I did pick the right five films in the 2013 Holiday Pool (which I should feel good about), though, of course, I couldn't have predicted how Frozen would freeze both Middle Earth and Asgard in the same season. Here's my 2014 projects that already look as doomed as last year's picks...

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Catching Fire made $424.7 million and didn't even break a sweat doing it. Mockingjay does more of the same, however I think the total goes down... People are going to wait for the Part 2 before they do the repeated viewings. $393 million guessitimate

2. Interstellar
I'm already feeling like an idiot for this one. Why did I think McConaughey doing Lincoln car commercials meant people found him more relatable than they used to? My hope was the critics, accolades, IMAX screenings, etc. would help carry this film far. Now it might not even get past the asteroid belt. I'd say I feel like Uranus, but I don't know you that well.

3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Because what we all need to bring in holiday cheer is another three hours of mind-numbing Middle Earth battles. Does Peter Jackson realize he's doing more to hurt the legacy of his Lord of the Rings movies with these "Afterschool Specials" disguised as Tolkien films. If a picture is worth a thousand words, than these movies should be shorter than the book... not longer!

4. Big Hero 6
I thought this would be more Wreck-It-Ralph and Tangled and end-up in the $200 million range (and it probably will be). Sadly, that already looks like it'll be enough to be higher in the final Top Five than Interstellar.

5. Penguins of Madagascar
For the second Holiday Pool in a row, I hate, hate, hate my #5 pick. Even though I actually nailed it last year with Anchorman 2, I just had no confidence in it and the same goes for these Penguins. If it wasn't for Thanksgiving weekend this film would be nowhere on my list. I just don't see enough from Dumb To, Annie, Night 3, or Into the Woods that makes me believe they'll make more than $150 million by MLK Day. That said, I don't even think Penguins will get that high... just higher than the rest. Wasn't that a Cheech and Chong movie?

by Matt Neuenburg on 11/11/2014

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Big Hero 6, Interstellar, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, The Penguins of Madagascar
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