Alita: Battle Angel is projected to bomb at the domestic box office with a rough opening weekend. The long-gestating manga adaptation is now playing in theaters, and Fox is hoping it can be their last big hit in the pre-Disney era. The studio invested a hefty amount of money into the project, banking on the creative team of producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez to deliver the goods and give audiences a memorable cinematic experience. Marketing played up the film's spectacle and visual effects, hoping to draw in viewers who aren't as familiar with the source material.
At one point, Alita was scheduled as Fox's big Christmas 2018 release, but it was wisely moved to February in order to avoid high-profile competition. Fox clearly wanted to avoid the likes of Aquaman (which made $1 billion worldwide) and put their project in a better position to thrive. Unfortunately, shifting the date doesn't look like it will have the intended effect, as Alita is poised to have a very hard time at the box office.
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Per Box Office Pro, the film is estimated to earn $23.7 million domestically during the first four days of its run. This would be good enough for third place on the weekend charts, behind holdover The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and newcomer Happy Death Day 2U.
It goes without saying this is a disastrous turn of events for Fox, as it looks like Alita will suffer the same fate as similar titles like 2017's Ghost in the Shell adaptation (which opened with $18.6 million and finished with $40.5 million domestically). Though reviews have been generally positive, the word-of-mouth isn't enthusiastic enough to give Alita's prospects a substantial enough boost. That's a little concerning, seeing that there isn't much in the way of direct competition right now. With Glass having done most of its business already, Alita is positioned as the only real live-action tentpole around. Fox is going to need the film to perform extremely well in the overseas markets in order for it to become profitable. If interest in Alita is this low at the outset, it's unlikely to have legs - especially when How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Captain Marvel open.
With this in mind, the Alita franchise is probably over before it really begins. Especially with the Disney/Fox acquisition about to be finalized in the near future, it's highly unlikely the Mouse House will want to set aside funds for more installments in a series without much drawing power. This has to be a disappointing turn of events for Alita fans, who waited years for this movie to come into fruition. And while the end result is a competent sci-fi action movie buoyed by its impressive visual effects, everyone involved was definitely hoping for more.
Source: Box Office Pro
- Alita Battle Angel (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2019