Skip to main content

Box office hits and misses: ‘Alien: Covenant’ narrowly beats ‘Guardians’ with weak debut

box office alien covenant still 6
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Ridley Scott’s acid-blooded xenomorphs mauled their way to the top of the box office over the weekend with Alien: Covenant, but it wasn’t the sort of premiere 20th Century Fox hoped for from the film.

Scott’s follow-up to the polarizing 2012 prequel film Prometheus underperformed in both its opening weekend numbers and reviews, earning just $36 million in U.S. theaters and receiving just a “B” grade on audience-driven survey site CinemaScore. For reference, audiences gave recent films The Great Wall and Ghost in the Shell the same grade, so it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from ticket buyers.

The news wasn’t as bad from professional critics, who currently have Alien: Covenant sitting at a 73-percent “Fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes (although audience scores on the site are a bit less enthusiastic about the film). Given that the film cost approximately $97 million to make, its current worldwide gross of $117.8 million means that it will likely cover its production and marketing budget by the end of its run, but industry pundits had previously set a $40 million domestic debut as what the film should earn to be considered a bona fide success.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Alien: Covenant $36M $36M $117.8M
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 $35M $301.8M $732.5M
3. Everything, Everything $12M $12M $12M
4. Snatched $7.6M $32.7M $39.9M
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul $7.2M $7.2M $7.2M
6. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword $6.8M $27.2M $93.4M
7. The Fate of the Furious $3.1M $219.8M $1.2B
8. The Boss Baby $2.8M $166.1M $467.9M
9. Beauty and the Beast $2.4M $497.7M $1.2B
10. How to be a Latin Lover $2.2M $29.4M $29.4M

Also working against Alien: Covenant is the fact that the film only narrowly beat Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which earned $35 million in its third weekend in theaters. The latest installment of a franchise as iconic as the Alien movies is generally expected — and rightfully so — to have a much bigger premiere against a movie that’s been around two weekends already, even if that movie is Marvel Studios’ latest blockbuster.

On that note, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is already outpacing its predecessor at the box office, so it will be interesting to see how big of a run the sequel has in theaters.

As for the rest of the week’s new releases, the young-adult drama Everything, Everything outperformed expectations across the board with a $12 million premiere in U.S. theaters and an “A-” grade on CinemaScore. People who bought tickets to see the movie were more than happy with it, despite critics giving it a mere 43-percent approval rating.

The only other new release to crack the top ten films was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the fourth film in that family-friendly franchise. The film earned well below what the studio hoped, with $7.2 million marking the lowest debut for any installment of the series so far. This could spell the end for the franchise’s theatrical debuts, but there’s always a good chance it could shift into the direct-to-video market and do fine.

The only other noteworthy element of the week’s top ten were the continuing troubles for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which is well on its way to being the year’s first major flop. Director Guy Ritchie’s film cost more than $175 million to make, and has earned less than $30 million domestically and less than $100 million worldwide so far, and doesn’t have any major premieres in large markets left to save it.

This upcoming week features a few high-profile new releases, including the action comedy Baywatch getting started a little early on Thursday, May 25, and Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hitting theaters a day later on May 26. The latter film is the fifth chapter of a series that has already earned more than $1.2 billion domestically and $3.7 billion worldwide across four films.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
10 biggest sci-fi hits of all time, ranked by adjusted box-office gross
C-3PO, R2-D2, Luke, and Leia staring out at space in "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back."

Thanks to Box Office Mojo, fans can see exactly how their favorite movies' box office numbers translate to the current dollar value. Since some of the most notable sci-fi movies came out decades ago, their listed gross numbers can be a bit misleading. For example, George Lucas' landmark achievement Star Wars was released in 1977. Due to inflation since then, the buying power of $1 in 1977 is equal to about $5.25 in 2023. That's a significant difference!

The biggest domestic sci-fi hits of all time when adjusted by box-office gross reveal how a few franchises have a viselike hold on the genre. Here are the top 10 sci-fi hits of all time when adjusted for inflation based on the 2022 ticket price.
10. Ghostbusters (1984): $667,872,049

Read more
Best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Max (HBO), and more
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

As the weather cools down and theaters empty of the summertime crowds, the best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Max (HBO), and more are worth your attention. Fortunately, we follow the calendar closely, adding all of the best new arrivals to this roundup for your convenience. You'll always have something new to watch.

September has been packed with quality additions, and this week Netflix and Apple TV+ join in the fun.
We also have guides to the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video, and the best movies on HBO.

Read more
From Godzilla to The Creator, Gareth Edwards makes beautiful doomsday blockbusters like no one else
A monk-like android sees a hostile drone shift emerge from the clouds in the distance.

The Creator 20th Century Studios / 20th Century Studios

"Oh, it's beautiful," says Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) as he witnesses the first demonstration of the Death Star's power in Rogue One. Orson is the villain of this "Star Wars story" — a bastard functionary of The Empire — but he's right for once. From far away, from the safety of space, that brilliant bloom of orange consuming a whole city is strangely beautiful. So is most of the destruction in the doomsday blockbusters of Gareth Edwards, the British filmmaker who directed Rogue One… or a lot of it, anyway.

Read more