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

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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.