Alita: Battle Angel’s big opening weekend leads weak holiday box office

Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel is a project nearly two decades in the making, but its debut suggests that it was worth the wait.

The film outperformed box office pundits’ expectations with $27.8 million over the first three days of the four-day holiday weekend in the U.S., and is expected to earn $33 million across all four days and $41 million for its first five days after premiering a day early last week. That’s well above the $30 million initially predicted for the film in its first five days, and with $130.8 million worldwide already, Alita is on a good pace so far.

The film’s box-office success was matched with better-than-expected reviews, too. Alita currently has a 60-percent approval score on review aggregator RottenTomatoes, with an abundance of praise heaped upon the film for its impressive visual effects. Still, even with its good start, the film will have a tough time covering its hefty $170 million production price tag.

# Title  Weekend    U.S. Total 
1. Alita: Battle Angel $27.8M $36.5M
2. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part  $21.2M $62.6M
3. Isn’t It Romantic $14.2M $20.4M
4. What Men Want $10.9M $36.1M
5. Happy Death Day 2U $9.8M $13.5M
6. Cold Pursuit  $6M $21.1M
7. The Upside  $5.5M $94.1M
8. Glass $3.8M $104.4M
9. The Prodigy  $3.1M $11M
10. Green Book  $2.7M $65.7M

Overall, the Presidents’ Day weekend wasn’t a big one at the box office this year, with three-day ticket sales ahead of the holiday at the lowest point they’ve been for that span since 2004. Even with a big Monday movie drive, Presidents Day weekend 2019 isn’t going to be one that studios will want to remember.

Alita was joined in the weekend’s top ten films by two more new releases, including the appropriately titled romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic, which debuted in third place, and horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U, which settled for fifth place.

Of the other two new releases, Isn’t It Romantic had an opening weekend that was slightly better than expected, likely due to some good scheduling for Valentine’s Day audiences, while Happy Death Day 2U fell short of early estimates. Both films earned positive reviews, with 69-percent positive reviews for Isn’t It Romantic and 67-percent positive reviews for Happy Death Day 2U.

Also of note was M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass crossing the $100 million mark domestically, and the continued success of Aquaman, which moved past Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice in domestic ticket sales to become the second highest-grossing film in the DC Extended Universe after Wonder Woman. The film is already the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros. Pictures superhero cinematic universe worldwide, but it’s now creeping up on the domestic records set by Wonder Woman, too.

Premiering this upcoming week will be the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which is likely to win the weekend and dominate the box office at the tail end of what is a week-long vacation for many schools around the U.S. The third film in the popular How to Train Your Dragon franchise, The Hidden World is a major release for Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation. That’s the only major release over the weekend, so most of this week’s top ten could end up in similar spots next week.

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