“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” has made easy work of dominating the box office for the past two weeks, but its reign may come to an end at the hands of another, far more vicious space-faring movie franchise: Fox’s “Alien: Covenant,” which is projected by independent trackers to have a solid opening this weekend between $40-45 million from 3,716 locations, with Fox projecting a result on the lower end.
Fox has had a lot of success with R-rated blockbusters over the past couple years, blowing away expectations with “Deadpool” last year with a $760 million haul and then doing it again this past March with “Logan” and its $606 million score. They also launched an original R-rated franchise of their own with “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which made $414 million worldwide against a $81 million budget and will get a sequel this fall.
But “Alien: Covenant,” with its gory chestbusters and hard R-rated horror scares, doesn’t have the same draw as those comic book icons or the action-comedy allure of “Kingsman,” so a comparison between it and its Fox stable mates wouldn’t completely connect.
Instead, a better measuring stick for “Covenant” would be “Mad Max: Fury Road,” an entry in a beloved cult franchise that has long fallen dormant. Not counting the two non-canon “Alien vs. Predator” films or the 2012 prequel “Prometheus,” which didn’t feature the Aliens until the very last scene in the film, “Covenant” is the first film with the “Alien” name since “Alien: Resurrection” 20 years ago. Also like “Fury Road,” a major element of the film’s marketing has been the presence of the series’ creator in the director’s chair. For “Mad Max,” it was George Miller; for “Alien: Covenant,” it’s Ridley Scott.
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With that comparison in mind, “Covenant” holds up pretty well so far, as “Fury Road” posted a domestic opening of $45 million from this release slot in 2015. On the overseas side, “Covenant” has also kept pace with “Fury Road”‘s pre-domestic release, having rolled out in 34 markets this past weekend. The film made $40 million from those markets, including $18.1 from Korea, France, and the U.K. That’s 4 percent higher than the openings “Fury Road” made from that suite of markets at current exchange rates.
If “Alien: Covenant” can hit its projection target and take No. 1 — which a $40 million opening should do if “Guardians” takes the customary 50 percent drop from its $65.2 million second frame — it would be a big victory for Fox’s marketing team, which has put an extensive campaign behind this movie, most notably a sneak-peek screening and panel at SXSW and an annual “Alien Day” promotion on April 26, a day picked as a reference to the planet LV-426 from the original 1979 movie.
Bridging the gap between “Prometheus” and Ellen Ripley’s encounter with the infamous Xenomorphs, “Alien: Covenant” follows the crew members of the titular spaceship as they travel to a new planet to set up humanity’s first large-scale colony. Along the way, they find a mysterious signal from a planet that turns out to be perfect for human life. But when they land, they discover only two inhabitants: David, the android companion from the Prometheus (Michael Fassbender), and the bloodthirsty extraterrestrials that wiped out all life forms on the planet.
Written by John Logan and Dante Harper, the film also stars Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, and Billy Crudup. It is produced by Scott, Mark Huffan, Michael Schaefer, David Giler and Walter Hill. Critic response to the film has been generally positive, with the film getting a 75 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Along with “Covenant,” Fox is also releasing something much more family-friendly: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” The fourth film based on Jeff Kinney’s hit children’s book series and the first since 2012, it sees an entirely new cast take over as Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to go on a road trip for his grandmother’s birthday as part of a scheme to become famous. David Bowers directed as well as co-wrote the script with Kinney and Adam Sztykiel. The film currently has a 14 percent RT rating and is projected for an opening between $10-12 million.
Also out this week is Warner Bros./MGM’s “Everything, Everything,” a romance based on the 2015 bestselling young adult novel by Nicola Yoon. It stars Amandla Stenberg as Maddy, a teen girl who suffers from an autoimmune disease that keeps her confined to her house but is tempted to explore the outside world after falling in love with the boy next door (Nick Robinson). Made on a reported budget of $10 million, the film is projected to make $10-12 million from 2,800 screens. Stella Meghie directed the film from a script by J. Mills Goodloe.