Box Office: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Struggles Heading Into Crowded Holiday Weekend

Variety | 2/12/2019 | Rebecca Rubin
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It could be anybody’s game this weekend at the domestic box office.

A trio of new releases — Fox’s “Alita: Battle Angel,” Universal’s “Happy Death Day 2U,” and Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Isn’t It Romantic” — will be vying for box office glory. All three are getting a head start on a busy holiday frame, with each expecting a debut in the low-$20 millions over the long Presidents Day weekend. Unless one of the newcomers becomes a surprise hit, it’ll be a close race for the top prize.

Fox - Adventure - Alita - Battle - Angel

Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” has the most to gain, or lose, this weekend. The PG-13 cyberpunk action film is opening on Thursday and should earn $22 million over the weekend and $30 million during its first five days of release. That would be a respectable start for many films, but it’s disastrous for “Alita,” a CGI spectacle with a price tag upward of $170 million. The studio seemingly spared no expenses for producer James Cameron’s lavish take on a manga series, but reviews were mixed. Variety’s Guy Lodge praised the special effects, but said the film is “weighed down by a protracted, soul-challenged Frankenstory that short-circuits every time it gets moving.” It carries a mediocre 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Film - Review - Death - Day

Film Review: 'Happy Death Day 2U'

Fox originally planned to debut the movie in December, but opted to avoid competition from a Christmas pileup that included the likes of “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” and “Bumblebee.” That was probably a smart move, considering just before “Alita” was supposed to open, another sci-fi epic, Universal’s “Mortal Engines,” flopped in spectacular fashion, while the Atlantean king, magical nanny, and tricked out Volkswagen Beetle all stuck the landing at the domestic box office. The...
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