It’s the Presidents Day holiday this Box Office weekend, and U.S. cinemagoers look to celebrate the festivities with the three new releases ‘Alita: Battle Angel’, ‘Happy Death Day 2U’, and ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ contending one of the tightest weekend races in recent memory. While 12 months ago saw the beginning of ‘Black Panther’s extraordinary Box Office run, this year sees 4 films in with a chance of topping the charts with a $20m+ 3-day weekend.
It’ll likely be won by 20th Century Fox’s ‘Alita: Battle Angel’, the passion project of James Cameron for the last 19 years. Originally intended to open at Christmas last year, the decision to move it likely saved it from being another ‘Mortal Engines’-sized flop.
That isn’t to say it’s guaranteed success, however.
Sitting on a budget close to $200m but only managing mixed reviews, its risk-level is further heightened by being based on a niche manga property. Still, producer James Cameron has the Hollywood clout to demand such extravagances; he’s the creator of the biggest films of all time in ‘Avatar’ and ‘Titanic’.
‘Alita’ definitely matches the visual splendor of the two films at least, with critics universally praising the special effects. Not so much the story though, which sees the cyborg ‘Alita’ (played by Rosa Salazar), discovered by scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), after a world war has left Earth decimated. Directed by ‘Spy Kids’ and ‘Sin City’s Robert Rodriguez, it also stars Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, and Ed Skrein.
All being said, there’s no way of avoiding the fact that this is to be a pretty damning domestic flop, with a 3-day opening of $24m. In-line with disappointments such as 2014’s ‘Robocop’ ($21.7m) and ‘Terminator: Genysis’ ($27m), the attention now falls to its international gross (China especially), which becomes key if the film wants to realise Cameron’s dream of becoming a fully-fledged franchise.
Hot on ‘Alita’s tail’ is last week’s winner ‘LEGO 2’ and newcomer ‘Happy Death Day 2U’, 2 sequels in very different situations. While ‘LEGO 2’ struggles to continue a previously flourishing franchise, Blumhouse’s ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ should build on the surprise success of 2017’s ‘Happy Death Day’, which opened to $26m on its way to earning $55.7m domestically, and $125.5m worldwide off a $4.8m budget.
‘Happy Death Day 2U’ won’t replicate the 3-day success of its predecessor, although producers Blumhouse won’t be too concerned as its Wednesday opening essentially gives it a 6-day start. It’ll earn around $20m from Friday to Sunday, just under ‘LEGO 2’s $22m. The slasher-sequel sees Christopher Landon return to the director’s chair, and follows the events of the first film, as Tree (Jessica Rothe) finds herself back in the time-loop, this time alongside her friends.
This leaves Rebel Wilson’s ‘Isn’t it Romantic’ chasing the pack, with a forecasted $16m from Friday to Sunday. It follows Rebel’s character Natalie enter into a PG-13, clichéd rom-com universe after an accident knocks her out; an interesting angle on a popular comedy trope. Last year’s ‘I Feel Pretty’, starring Amy Schumer, had a similar premise, although unlike the latter, critics and audiences alike seem genuinely fond of ‘Isn’t It Romantic’, with its 68% Tomatometer score doubling ‘I Feel Pretty’s 35%. Hopefully, ‘Romantic’s budget also doesn’t reach the inflated $32m that ‘Pretty’s did, if Warner Bros and New Line hope to turn a theatrical profit.