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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

If you’ve been out and about since Halloween, no doubt you’ve been subjected to the twinkling merriment of consumerism otherwise known as “only 50 shopping days left ‘till Christmas.”

Yes, the holiday season is squarely upon us, and while decking the halls and fa-la-la-ing might be enough to drive you completely frickin’ bonkers this far away from all the yuletide festivities, take solace in the fact that Hollywood is also showcasing some of their top tier holiday cheer in multiplexes this weekend.

Just how massive are these gifts? Well, remember when you asked for Beats by Dre headphones but got the Chinese knock-offs instead because, well, let’s be honest—you were sorta on the naughty list last year. Well, Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and Disney’s “Big Hero 6” are both certified authentic, each arriving with massive amounts of buzz, production teams that know exactly what they’re doing and mega-sized budgets of $165M.

Considering both films are expected to open with $60M+ this weekend, it’s no surprise that they are destined to fight for the top box office spot—er—second place, after “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1,” this season.

So who wins this thing outright this weekend? Well, let’s investigate, shall we? Both films will be on 3,500+ screens this weekend and both will get substantial from box office boosts—3D for “Big Hero 6” and IMAX for “Interstellar.”

If you look at the history of Nolan’s films, outside the Dark Knight Trilogy, he has succeeded where few have, taking risks and ultimately winning over audiences with his original content—something that Hollywood desperately needs more than ever right now—like “Insomnia,” “The Prestige” and “Inception.”

Sure, his last two Batman films hit $1B+ worldwide, but even “Inception” scored $825M, which for something completely original is almost unheard of these days. It goes without saying that Nolan is now one of the few household names when it comes to directors, one that challenges moviegoers as well as entertains.

That’s proven to be a potent box office combination as “Inception” debuted with $62M, destroying Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in the process as they opened on the same weekend back in summer 2010.

This 2014 Disney/Nolan matchup will be much closer, but still, expect “Interstellar” to provide a big bang of around $70M+–a number that even the best Disney flicks would have a difficult time matching.

Believe it or not, only four Disney animated films have ever debuted with $70M+–all of them Pixar films, and only one of them during the holiday season, “The Incredibles” back in 2004. Still, even “Wreck-It Ralph” ($49M) and “Frozen” ($67M) couldn’t match those numbers. Upwards of $60M would be amazing, I think.

Despite the “6” in the title, this is the first flick for the “Big Hero” franchise, but don’t think that “Big Hero 6, pt. 6” won’t exist someday.  The Marvel/Disney brand is the strongest force in the multiplex universe right now, and their first animated collaboration should do wonders to further expand the brand.

In limited release, the film to go check out this weekend is Focus’ “The Theory of Everything” about the life and love of famed theorist Stephen Hawkins.

Eddie Redmayne (Marius in “Les Miserables”) portrays Hawkins to such a magnificent degree that it’s really hard to imagine he won’t be collecting heaps of awards hardware this year and should catapult him into some high-profile projects in the near future.

Redmayne was a joy to watch in “Les Miserables” and I’m betting will arrive unscathed even after “Jupiter Ascending.” Hell, he might even elevate it to some degree. Great actor–one that will finally get his due.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Interstellar – $68M

2. Big Hero 6 – $61M

3. Nightcrawler – $6M

4. Gone Girl – $5.5M

5. Ouija – $5

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STAR WARS: EPISODE VII GETS A SUBTITLE

Cue lens flare: The Force Awakens.

Hey, that’s better than “The Phantom Menace,” right? But, c’mon, The Force Abides would have been much cooler, dude. There’s still time to reconsider, JJ.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: “FURIOUS 7” (Apr. 4, 2015)

Didn’t we aready see this 6 times before. In fact, wasn’t this exact scene pulled out of…um…”Need for Speed?” No matter. This franchise has massive heat in the tank, and will be the first of the series to debut with $100M+. Boom.

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CHOICE BLIP OF THE WEEK: “MCFARLAND, USA” (Feb. 20, 2015)

Kevin Costner has done his fair share of sports dramas—“Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams,” “Tin Cup”—and guess what? They’re all pretty damn good. Even “Draft Day” was solid. Sure, I have an unhealthy love for Costner, but just watching him drink coffee and ponder how he’s going to turn this rag-tag group of cross-country runners from the wrong side of the tracks into a force, makes me want to jump for joy and cry. And I’ll probably do both. Disney knows how to push all the right buttons, and Costner is still one of the best working actors out there. This could surprise.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Image Courtesy of Paramount; Poster Design by Concept Arts