‘Alita: Battle Angel’ wins the Presidents’ Day weekend box office, but it’s a long way from profitability

‘Alita: Battle Angel.’ Fox
  • Fox’s “Alita: Battle Angel” earned $US27 million over the weekend and over $US41 million by Presidents’ Day.
  • That’s enough to come out on top of the holiday weekend.
  • But it’s going to be an uphill climb for this $US170 million-budgeted movie to make a profit.

Fox’s big-budget “Alita: Battle Angel” had no trouble topping the domestic box office over Presidents’ Day weekend, with the movie taking in an estimated $US27 million from Friday to Sunday and over $US41 million from its opening on Thursday to Presidents’ Day on Monday. But the movie will need a big run globally to make a profit.

The James Cameron-produced/Robert Rodriguez-directed big-screen adaptation of “Battle Angel Alita,” derived from the famous manga series created by Yukito Kishiro, has been a project in the works since around 2000 when Cameron began penning the script. But with the success of 2009’s “Avatar,” Cameron stepped aside and enlisted Rodriguez to take the project to the finish line. Budgeted at $US170 million, Fox needs an “Avatar”-like success to make a profit. But at the moment that’s going to be a tough hill to climb.

With only a 59% score on Rotten Tomatoes, there wasn’t much good word of mouth coming from Film Twitter leading up to this weekend, and Fox didn’t seem that confident in the movie’s prospects domestically as it only played on 3,700 screens (“The Lego Movie 2,” currently in its second week in theatres, showed on more screens). To find financial success, the movie needs to bring in the coin overseas. In Japan, the movie is playing in previews, and in China it starts screening on Monday.

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The good news for “Alita,” back here in the US, is it has two weeks before getting hit with any major competition, as Disney’s “Captain Marvel” doesn’t open until March 8. So if word of mouth builds thanks to this strong weekend, the movie has some time to up its box office gross.

Meanwhile, the other big new releases (both playing since Valentine’s Day) had modest success. Warner Bros.’ comedy “Isn’t It Romantic” brought in $US20.4 million while Universal’s horror “Happy Death Day 2U” grossed $US13.5 million over the last five days.