Fox’s sci-fi blockbuster “Alita: Battle Angel” is in position to take No. 1 at the Presidents’ Day weekend box office, as it is currently topping analyst expectations but still faces an uphill battle to turn a profit.
Released on Thursday, “Alita” was projected for a 5-day opening of $30 million through the extended weekend. After making $7.5 million on Friday from 3,790 screens, estimates are now projecting a $38 million extended opening.
However, with a production budget of at least $150 million, this adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s cyberpunk manga will rely heavily on Asian markets to stay out of the red. The movie opens in China and Japan next weekend, with a projected opening in China of around $50 million.
The good news for “Alita” is that audience reception has been very strong. While critics were mixed on the film with a 59 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, opening night audiences gave it an A- on CinemaScore polls. There is no serious competition for the 18-35 male demographic until “Captain Marvel” hits theaters in three weeks, so strong audience word-of-mouth could help “Alita” hold well through the next couple of weekends.
In second place is “The Lego Movie 2,” which is holding well after a disappointing opening weekend, as families head to the theaters during the extended weekend. The sequel is estimated to add $25 million through the 4-day frame, which would bring its total to $67 million. By comparison, the last installment in the Lego franchise released in February, “The Lego Batman Movie,” had $107 million through Presidents’ Day weekend.
In third is another Warner Bros. release, New Line’s “Isn’t It Romantic.” The rom-com satire, which released on Wednesday, is estimated to earn a 4-day opening of $15 million from 3,444 screens after making $4.1 million on Friday. Overall, the film is hitting tracker expectations with an estimated 6-day opening of $21 million.
The other new release of this weekend, Universal’s “Happy Death Day 2U,” is falling well behind tracker projections. The Blumhouse-produced sequel was projected for a 6-day opening in the high $20 million range, but is now estimated to only gross $14 million in that time span after making just $2.8 million from 3,207 screens on Friday.
On the weekend charts, “2U” is falling down to fifth, below both “Isn’t It Romantic” and the second weekend of Paramount’s “What Men Want.” The Taraji P. Henson film is projected for a 4-day total of $11.5 million and a total of $36.8 million, while “Happy Death Day 2U” is looking at a 4-day total of $10.6 million.
That’s a far cry from the $26 million 3-day start that the first “Happy Death Day” made in October 2017. The good news for “2U” is that the break-even point is very low, as the film was made on a $9 million budget.
Overall, Presidents’ Day weekend totals are on course to drop 60 percent year-over-year, but that was to be expected as nothing would ever come close to the record obliterating opening of “Black Panther,” which opened on this extended weekend last year to $242 million.
However, even compared to Presidents’ Day weekend 2017, this frame is still down by 20 percent, as the sluggish start to the 2019 box office is now expected to continue until the release of “Captain Marvel,” which is estimated to earn an opening weekend of at least $120 million.