UPDATE (Feb 19): Fox’s cyborg action release Alita: Battle Angel was the clear North American box office winner over the President’s Day holiday, although the result trailed the year-ago launch of Black Panther by some 60%.
The film, directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written and produced by James Cameron, earned a confirmed $28.2m over the Friday-Sunday portion of the holiday weekend ($37m since Thursday opening day) and $43m by the end of the four-day holiday period.
That is a weak start for a feature that reportedly cost around $170m to make. As is so often the case with Hollywood films these days, the more realistic recoupment opportunity will come from international, where Alita grossed $56.8m over the weekend.
While observers should never read too much into any comparison with an anomaly – in this case Black Panther, the Disney / Marvel smash that went on to amass $700m in North America – Alita contributed to the lowest to the lowest total box office for a four-day President’s Day weekend in nearly two decades. For a year that has been billed as the one that could rule them all, 2019 needs to pull its socks up.
Warner Bros’ The LEGO Movie: The Second Part in second place added $21m over three-day portion of the weekend to reach $62.5m and is some way behind its predecessor, The LEGO Movie in 2014, which finished on $257.8m. Last year’s The LEGO Ninjago Movie ended on $59.3m, while The LEGO Batman Movie finished on $175.8m.
Two other new releases broke into the top 10 in lacklustre fashion. Rebel Wilson rom-com Isn’t It Romantic opened at number three on $14.3m via Warner Bros and Universal’s horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U opened in fifth place on $9.5m – trailing the original’s October 2017 number one launch on $26m.
Revenge thriller Cold Pursuit starring the newly controversial Liam Neeson, whose ill-judged account of his personal revenge story landed him in hot water, is performing modestly but not disastrously. The action film fell 45.9% in its second weekend and dropped three places to number six on $6m for $21.1m.
Controversy is not always the enemy of box office. The Upside starring Kevin Hart, who was briefly in line to host next weekend’s now hostless 91st annual Academy Awards and by many accounts did not handle himself well when old homophobic tweets resurfaced, is chugging towards $100m. The comedy remake from STX ranks seventh on $94.1m after a $5.5m three-day session and what an uncomfortable irony it would be for the Academy should the film cross $100m on the weekend of the Oscars.
MGM released true-life wrestling saga Fighting With My Family at number 33. The film, starring Florence Pugh, Nick Frost and Dwayne Johnson and directed by Stephen Merchant, performed well, earning $135,930 in four for a $33,983 average.
Also of note in limited release was Colombia’s foreign-language Oscar submission Birds Of Passage from Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, which arrived via The Orchard at number 41 on $24,249 in two theatres.
Box office for the top 12 reached $109.1m, up 10.5% on last weekend and down nearly 60% against President’s Day weekend in 2018, when Black Panther roared into action on $202m over three days, and $242.2m over four.
This week’s wide release is DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World through Universal.
Confirmed top 10 North America Feb 15-17, 2019
Film (Dist) / Conf wkd gross / Conf total to date
1 (-) Alita: Battle Angel (Fox) Fox International $28.2m $37m
2 (1) The LEGO Movie: The Second Part (Warner Bros) Warner Bros Pictures International $21m $62.5m
3 (-) Isn’t It Romantic (Warner Bros-New Line) $14.3m $20.6m
4 (2) What Men Want (Paramount) Paramount Pictures International $10.7m $35.9m
5 (-) Happy Death Day 2U (Universal) Universal Pictures International $9.5m $13.2m
6 (3) Cold Pursuit (Lionsgate) Studiocanal $6m $21.1m
7 (4) The Upside (STX) STX International $5.5m $94.1m
8 (5) Glass (Universal) Buena Vista International $3.9m $104.5m
9 (6) The Prodigy (Orion) $3.2m $11m
10 (7) Green Book (Universal) Lionsgate International / Amblin Partners $2.9m $65.9m