×

Box Office: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Struggles Heading Into Crowded Holiday Weekend

It could be anybody’s game this weekend at the domestic box office.

A trio of new releases — Fox’s “Alita: Battle Angel,” Universal’s “Happy Death Day 2U,” and Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Isn’t It Romantic” — will be vying for box office glory. All three are getting a head start on a busy holiday frame, with each expecting a debut in the low-$20 millions over the long Presidents Day weekend. Unless one of the newcomers becomes a surprise hit, it’ll be a close race for the top prize.

Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” has the most to gain, or lose, this weekend. The PG-13 cyberpunk action film is opening on Thursday and should earn $22 million over the weekend and $30 million during its first five days of release. That would be a respectable start for many films, but it’s disastrous for “Alita,” a CGI spectacle with a price tag upward of $170 million. The studio seemingly spared no expenses for producer James Cameron’s lavish take on a manga series, but reviews were mixed. Variety’s Guy Lodge praised the special effects, but said the film is “weighed down by a protracted, soul-challenged Frankenstory that short-circuits every time it gets moving.” It carries a mediocre 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox originally planned to debut the movie in December, but opted to avoid competition from a Christmas pileup that included the likes of “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” and “Bumblebee.” That was probably a smart move, considering just before “Alita” was supposed to open, another sci-fi epic, Universal’s “Mortal Engines,” flopped in spectacular fashion, while the Atlantean king, magical nanny, and tricked out Volkswagen Beetle all stuck the landing at the domestic box office. The studio is hoping “Alita’s” new release will be more hospitable. The holiday could help as it is targeted to younger audiences, who will be out of school over the long weekend.

Rosa Salazar stars as the titular heroine who attempts to uncover her mysterious past, while Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Mahershala Ali round out the supporting cast. Even if “Alita” doesn’t become a breakout hit in North America, foreign markets could prove to be the cyborg’s saving grace. The movie had a solid start overseas last weekend, where it earned $32 million from 11 international territories. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, “Alita: Battle Angel” is based on a popular Japanese manga, so it’s no surprise the film is resonating in Asia. It launched in South Korea with $10.9 million and Taiwan with $4.7 million. The movie hits all major overseas markets, aside from Japan and China, this weekend.

For those looking to get in on the Valentine’s Day spirit, Universal and Blumhouse are releasing the slasher film “Happy Death Day 2U” on 3,000 screens this Wednesday. The sequel to 2017’s “Happy Death Day” is expected to earn $20 million during the weekend and $30 million over its first six days of release. That would be a healthy bow for the low-budget horror pic, but it’s down slightly from the first film, which generated $26 million and went on to pocket $125 million worldwide. Blumhouse spent more to make the sequel compared to the original, but its $9 million price tag is a fraction of the cost of “Alita: Battle Angel.”

The follow-up reunites Jessica Rothe and director Christopher Landon with horror maven Jason Blum. Rothe’s character once again finds herself reliving the same day on a loop after being murdered by a masked killer. This time around, her friends are also targets.

Warner Bros. and New Line are also joining the fun on Wednesday, taking its satirical flick “Isn’t It Romantic” starring Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth to 3,700 locations. The romantic comedy about a woman (Wilson) whose life begins to play out like a romantic comedy (a PG-13 one at that, to make matters worse) after getting hit in the head, is expected to make $14 million over the three-day frame and $22 million during the long weekend. Todd Strauss-Schulson directed the movie, which also features Adam DeVine and Priyanka Chopra.

Among holdovers, last weekend’s champ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is hoping to pick up steam among the family crowd over the holiday frame. The animated sequel fell short of expectations, earning $34 million during its first three days of release. It could add another $20 million to $25 million in its second week of release, if it sees a similar decline to past installments in the “Lego” franchise.

On the specialty front, MGM is releasing “Fighting With My Family” in four locations. The biographical sports drama based on a WWE documentary will expand nationwide next weekend. Directed by Stephen Merchant, it follows the rise of the British professional wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh). Dwayne Johnson executive produced and also appears in the movie.

So far, the box office has struggled to match 2018’s record year. After seeing more than a month straight of declining ticket sales, the exhibition industry is in need of a major boost. While this weekend won’t hold a candle to the same frame last year that saw Marvel’s “Black Panther” shatter records, Hollywood is instead counting on a handful of titles to entice moviegoers and inject a little life back into theaters.

“If variety is the spice of life, then hopefully a diverse selection of movies will ignite some sort of box office spark from audiences,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst with Comscore. “Comps to last year will be naturally tough since the juggernaut that was ‘Black Panther’ set the box office world on fire with its monumental debut.”

RELATED VIDEO:

More Film

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Huayi Brothers' Stock Falls 8% After 'The Eight Hundred' Cancellation

    Huayi Brothers’ stock fell by more than 8% on Wednesday, the day after the veteran Chinese studio announced that its new war epic, “The Eight Hundred,” will not hit Chinese theaters as scheduled next week. Shares dropped from RMB5.48 to RMB5.02 overnight after Huayi said Tuesday that its summer blockbuster’s theatrical debut would be indefinitely [...]

  • Chinese actor Xu Zheng holds his

    Golden Horse Organizers Set Clashing Date With China's Golden Rooster Awards

    The prestigious Golden Horse Awards announced Wednesday that it will hold its annual ceremony in Taiwan on the same day this year as China’s Communist-backed Golden Rooster Awards – which virtually assures that no major mainland Chinese talent will attend the event known as Asia’s Oscars on November 23. Hong Kong director Johnnie To will [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival Placeholder Berlinale

    Key Berlin Film Festival Venue Set to Close - or Is It?

    The announcement that German exhibitor CineStar would close its multiplex at Berlin’s famed Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz has thrown the cinema’s participation as a key venue for the Berlin Film Festival into doubt. Whether it actually shutters, however, remains to be seen. British-based Vue International is awaiting approval from German antitrust officials on its [...]

  • Stuber

    ‘Stuber’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Stuber.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.91 million through Sunday for 1,325 national ad airings on 42 networks. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content