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Box Office: ‘Alien: Covenant’ to Burst Into No. 1 Spot Over ‘Guardians 2’

Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” should handily win the North American box office this weekend with about $42 million at 3,670 locations, early estimates showed Friday.

That’s more than enough to deny a third straight box office title to Disney-Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which is heading for about $32 million at 4,347 sites. The tentpole sequel’s taking in about half of its gross from last weekend and should push “Guardians 2” to nearly $300 million by the end of this weekend — trailing only Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” among 2017 titles.

The launch of Warner Bros.-MGM’s teen romance “Everything, Everything” was performing somewhat above modest estimates with a projection of about $13 million at 2,850 sites. Fox’s debut of family comedy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” appeared to be in line with expectations with about $10 million at 3,157 venues. Fox’s second weekend of Amy Schumer-Goldie Hawn comedy “Snatched” was heading for fifth with about $8 million and should outdistance the second frame of Warner’s disastrous “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

Should the $42 million estimate hold for “Alien: Covenant,” it will match recent expectations, which pegged it in the $40 million to $45 million range. The R-rated horror-thriller scared up $4.2 million domestically in Thursday night preview screenings and was heading for an opening day of about $16 million.

“Alien: Covenant” was produced by Scott through his Scott Free Productions, and stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. The movie, which takes place a decade after the events in “Prometheus,” centers on the crew of the colony ship Covenant landing on an uncharted planet that appears at first to be a paradise — before coming under attack from terrifying aliens.

The opening will be about 18% below that of “Prometheus,” which grossed $51 million domestically when it launched on June 8-10, 2012, on its way to a $126 million domestic total. Scott also directed “Prometheus” and 1979’s original “Alien,” starring Sigourney Weaver.

Critics have shown plenty of support for “Alien: Covenant,” helping it earn a 73% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote in his review: “‘Alien: Covenant’ is, if nothing else, a return to form for both Scott and the series: a hard-R horror movie, featuring ferocious, acid-dripping space crustaceans, a tough female lead, and a bunch of dead-meat crew members.”

“Alien: Covenant” opened internationally with a solid $42 million in 34 markets last weekend. It will add another 54 foreign markets this weekend.

“Everything, Everything” launched with $525,000 in Thursday night previews with moderate expectations in the $8 million-$10 million range at 2,850 North American sites. Based on the YA novel by Nicola Yoon, the movie stars “Hunger Games” standout Amandla Stenberg as a girl with an autoimmune disease that keeps her locked up indoors. Nick Robinson co-stars as the new neighbor who falls for her and Anika Noni Rose plays her mother. Reviews have been mixed, earning the film a 46% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Everything, Everything” has a modest $10 million price tag.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”  is the fourth live-action movie based on Jeff Kinney’s series of books about middle schooler Greg Heffley and the first since 2012’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” which grossed $49 million domestically. Critics have been unimpressed, resulting in a 20% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. David Bower returns to direct the film about a family vacation gone awry with Jason Drucker, Alicia Silverstone, and Tom Everett Scott starring. “Wimpy Kid” has a $22 million budget.

Year-to-date box office hit $4.175 billion on May 17, 2.1% above the year-ago period, according to comScore. The gain is largely due to a strong first quarter that saw “Beauty and the Beast,” “Logan,” “Kong: Skull Island,” “Split,” and “Get Out” perform well.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the summer movie season of 2017 is in need of strong performers in the coming months to keep pace with last year when “Captain America: Civil War” had already banked a lofty $310.6 million at the same point. The Memorial Day weekend features openings for Paramount’s “Baywatch” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales.”

“History has shown that some summers are more front-loaded than others and that a strong start, morale building though it may be, can often give a false sense of box office security that can quickly fade,” he added. “So clearly it’s too early to call this season either a zero or a hero and with many more films on the docket in the coming months, a deficit now could be reversed in the future as big titles hit the multiplex and we could be singing a much more positive tune in the coming weeks.  It’s a rollercoaster ride for sure.”

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