Interstellar: Divided Reviews and Mixed Word-of-Mouth have Impact on Mediocre Box-Office Opening

Christopher Nolan’s space epic, Interstellar, fell short of Paramount’s projections, pulling in $47.5 million instead.

The story of a team of astronauts seeking out a new planet for humanity has earned mixed responses from critics, some of whom hailed it as visionary, while others decried it for being ponderous, sappy and overly ambitious.

Going into the weekend, Paramount expected the film to do between $50 million to $55 million in its opening weekend.  But the mixed word-of mouth and divisive critical response is hurting the film’s commercial appeal.  According to RottenTomatos, “Interstellar” has received 27 percent (more than one out of four) negative reviews, and many of the positive reviews ranked it with the grade B or B-.

Nolan’s previous film, “Inception,” also polarized viewers and critics, but enjoyed a strong $62.8 million opening weekend, closing its domestic run with $292.6 million.

There is no doubt that Leonardo DiCaprio, who toplined “inception,” is a bigger box-office draw than Matthew McConaughey.

“Interstellar” debuted in a few hundred Imax theaters and theaters with film projection on Tuesday before expanding to 3,561 last weekend. Its total for its first six days in theaters also had to be revised downward. It stands at $49.7 million, not $52.1 million as originally reported.

Overseas, “Interstellar” was the weekend’s number one film, pulling in $83 million. When final numbers were tallied, the picture brightened for the film, which was originally expected to generate $80 million internationally. Warner Bros. is handling “Interstellar’s” foreign roll out. The picture opened in most major foreign markets, save for China (Nov. 12 opening), Japan (Nov. 22) and Venezuela (Dec. 5).

Paramount was being overly ambitious in its predictions that “Interstellar” would hit $50 million, but the studio countered that critics were comparing its results with the wrong pictures. Because of its science-fiction pedigree and its appeal to older audiences, the studio said “Interstellar” would only experience a modest drop in its Sunday box office, similar to “Prometheus’” 15% dip and “Inception’s” 12% fall. However, “Interstellar” ended up falling 33% from its Saturday total to $12.3 million.

“Interstellar” cost $165 million to produce, so it will need to be a major international success in order to turn a profit.