Entertainment

‘Alita’ beats down ‘Lego Movie 2’ to win Presidents Day box office

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Published 2:46 p.m. ET Feb. 17, 2019

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Alita discovers she’s the “most advanced weapon ever.” See what she does with all that power in this trailer for long-awaited “Alita: Battle Angel.”
USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES – The sci-fi fantasy “Alita: Battle Angel” topped the charts for the weekend and beat out a number of newcomers, including the meta-romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic” and the horror sequel “Happy Death Day 2U.”

But it’s a victory with a few caveats: It’s leading the slowest Presidents Day weekend at the box office in almost 20 years and has a ways to go to cover the movie’s reported $170 million budget.

The James Cameron-produced film earned an estimated $27.8 million for the weekend, 20th Century Fox says. “Alita” has earned $36.5 million since making its debut Thursday.

Robert Rodriguez directed the futuristic film starring Rosa Salazar as a cyborg with no memory of her past. Critics were mixed on the results, and it’s become just the latest pricey and ambitious non-“Star Wars,” Marvel or DC sci-fi film to do less-than-stellar business at the box office, the last being the Peter Jackson-produced “Mortal Engines.”

It is quite a tumble (56.4 percent) from last year’s record Presidents Day box office when “Black Panther” grossed $202 million for the three-day weekend and propelled the industry total to $286.6 million. The weekend has in recent years been host to the openings of high earners, including “Deadpool” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This year, total weekend earnings amount to only $125 million.

The rest of the charts remained fairly lackluster as well. Last week’s champ, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” fell 38 percent to No. 2 in its second weekend, earning $21.2 million and bringing its total to $62.7 million – less than the first film earned in its opening weekend.

The meta-romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic,” starring Rebel Wilson as a woman who bonks her head and wakes up in a rom-com, finished third. It debuted to $14.2 million and has earned $20.5 million since its opening earlier in the week.

The other romantic comedy offering in theaters, “What Men Want,” with Taraji P. Henson, landed in fourth place in its second weekend with $10.9 million. “Happy Death Day 2U” rounded out the top five with $9.8 million. The first film opened twice as high, with $26 million-plus, but with a production budget under $10 million, it’s still bound for success.

The Dwayne Johnson wrestling film “Fighting With My Family” also opened in four theaters on Wednesday, earning $131,600 for the weekend.

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Seven weeks into the new year, the box office is still struggling, down nearly 20 percent from where industry totals were last year.

“We’ve been down every week this year,” says comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “This weekend is emblematic of what is going on at the box office.”

Slow weekends beget more slow weekends, he says – with less foot traffic at the theaters, no one is seeing previews for what’s to come and the cycle continues. But “Captain Marvel” may be coming to save the day on March 8.

Final numbers are expected after the holiday.

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