Director Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Alien: Covenant earned $36 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office, narrowly beating Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to become the new No. 1 film in the U.S. A sequel to the fairly lucrative 2012 Alien quasi-prequel Prometheus, the goal of Alien: Covenant is to help lay the foundation of stories that lead up to the original Alien film that Scott directed in 1979 starring Sigourney Weaver.
With the exception of Michael Fassbender, Alien: Covenant features largely a new cast in the lead roles (including Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Demian Bichir and Danny McBride), and chronicles the ship Covenant’s mission to a distant planet on a colonization mission. After a solar event that rocks the ship and prematurely awakens the crew, the Covenant makes the fatal mistake of following a communication beacon to a planet much closer in distance. The fateful decision effectively lays the foundation for the Alien tale fans are familiar with, including the introduction of Facehuggers and Xenomorphs.
According to Variety, Alien: Covenant debuted with a less-than-stellar $36 million at 3,761 locations, edging Vol. 2’s third-weekend take of $35.3 million. With only a 46.3 percent drop in business from the week before, that pushes Vol. 2 past the $300 million mark after debuting with a stunning $145 opening frame earlier this month. The opening number for Alien: Covenant is no doubt underwhelming by contrast, considering it garnered mostly positive (but not great) reviews and has a respectable 73 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The long-term prospects for Alien Covenant don’t look good in comparison to the success enjoyed by Prometheus – which earned $51 million in its opening weekend in 2012 before going on to a final domestic take of $126.4 million and $403.3 worldwide. And while Alien Covenant opened with $42 million in 34 international markets last weekend and finished at No. 1 in 19 countries, there are telling signs that it won’t land nearly as much business as Prometheus.
While Alien: Covenant saw an increase in business over the opening of Prometheus in South Korea and Hong Kong, it did dramatically less than its predecessor in such international markets as Mexico, Australia, Spain and Italy. Despite the underwhelming reception initially, the film’s international box office is sure to see a surge in business overseas this weekend as it opens in 52 more markets, including Russia, Germany and Sweden. Whether it’s a boost to justify Scott’s vision of making Alien films forever (or at the very least, two more) is yet to be seen. The script for the next film is already said by Scott to be written.
Finishing third at the domestic box office this weekend was the teen drama Everything, Everything, which took in $12 million at 2,800 locations. The Amy Schumer action comedy Snatched finished fourth in its second weekend with $7.6 million in ticket sales at more than 3,500 locations, while the debut of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul took in $7.2 million at 3,157 locations. Expect all films in the top five to get trounced over the four-day Memorial Day weekend next week when Dwayne Johnson’s Baywatch movie and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales open in 3,400 and 4,000-plus locations, respectively.