Director Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel/Alien prequel Alien: Covenant took in $4.2 million at Thursday night previews at the domestic box office. Alien: Covenant is Scott’s third film in the Alien franchise (given that Prometheus is technically a quasi-prequel to Alien), which Scott created in 1979 before handing over the reins to director James Cameron for 1986 sequel Aliens. Showing a renewed interest in the Alien franchise again in 2012 with Prometheus, Scott says that Alien: Covenant may get as many as two sequels, before the series arrives back at the point where his original Alien began.
While the $4.2 million opening seems to be on the low end for Thursday previews (especially in comparison to the $17 million Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earned in its Thursday preview), it doesn’t necessarily spell doom for latest entry in the Alien franchise. The $4.2 million domestic tally comes in above the Thursday previews of Kong: Skull Island ($3.7 million) and Power Rangers ($3.6 million), and those films went on to earn $61 million and $40.3 million in their opening weekends, respectively.
According to Deadline, Alien: Covenant’s $4.2 million Thursday came from ticket sales in 3,000 locations; and the film expands to 3,760 locations on Friday. An earlier report from the publication estimated that Covenant will open in the $35 million to $40 million range, enough to unseat Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the nation’s new No. 1 film. Vol. 2 is expected to earn in the low $30 million range, as it enters its third weekend in theaters.
One explanation for Alien: Covenant’s lower take on Thursday is clearly the film’s R rating, which will inevitably cut into the number of prospective moviegoers. The R-rated Mad Max: Fury Road faced the same circumstances when it opened in May 2015, and it took in $3.7 million in Thursday previews on its way to a $45.4 million opening weekend. Prometheus, also rated R, opened with $51 million in its opening weekend, before finishing $126.4M domestically.
Alien: Covenant opened with $42 million in 34 international markets last weekend, and 52 more foreign markets this weekend, including Russia, Germany and Sweden. And while Alien: Covenant will likely to continue to perform well internationally (Prometheus ended with a global take of $403.3 million), whether the film will have legs domestically is yet to be seen. It already has two tough Memorial Day weekend competitors, in Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
For the time being Alien: Covenant has momentum from early reviews , which were positive, yet not stellar; and currently, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has the film ranked at 73 percent. We will find out if moviegoers in general like the movie more (or less) than professional critics, soon enough.