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Alita: Battle Angel tops weekend box office with $27.8 million opening

There was hardly a battle at the domestic box office this weekend, with Alita: Battle Angel easily besting its competition and opening to the tune of $27.8 million

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Rosa Salazar as the titular cyborg heroine Alita and Christoph Waltz as well-respected scientist and Alita's caretaker Dr. Dyson Ido, Alita: Battle Angel raked in nearly $28 million from Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 17. Its earnings hit well over $30 million by President's Day on Monday, February 18. 

As of Monday morning Eastern Standard Time, Alita: Battle Angel has grossed $36.5 million across 3,790 theaters in the United States and Canada. This accounts for the $27.8 million the cyberpunk action flick made in its standard three-day frame and the cash it took in during Thursday night previews on February 14. 

Such a pull sees Alita: Battle Angel take the number-one spot at the box office, rising above The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Isn't It Romantic, What Men Want, Happy Death Day 2U, Cold Pursuit, The Upside, Glass, The Prodigy, and Green Book

While The LEGO Movie 2 is in its second week out, taking home $21.2 million to bring its total domestic revenue to $62.3 million to date, and Cold Pursuit, The Upside, Glass, The Prodigy, and Green Book are all taking additional turns at the box office following their debuts that happened weeks ago, both Isn't It Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U are brand-new releases. 

Led by Rebel Wilson and featuring Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, and Brandon Scott Jones, Isn't It Romantic opened on Wednesday, February 13 to capitalize on the Valentine's Day holiday window. The film took third place this weekend, earning $14.2 million from Friday to Sunday and $20.5 million from Wednesday to Sunday. Happy Death Day 2U also opened in theaters on February 13, moved up a day from its original February 14 launch after a father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim requested that it be changed so as to not coincide with the one-year anniversary of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 17 people. The Scream meets Groundhog's Day sequel wound up in fifth place, its $9.8 million three-day earnings and $13.5 million four-day revenue not enough to crack the top three. 

Isn't It Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U have received warm reviews from critics, with reviewers calling the former a "feel-good rom-com with some satirical bite — and a star well-suited for both" and the latter "a sequel that is both better than the original and manages to retroactively improve that movie." In the same vein, Alita: Battle Angel has generated mixed reviews from critics, but response has been more positive than negative. The film is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, its critical approval rating standing at a 60 percent and its consensus reading, "Alita: Battle Angel's story struggles to keep up with its special effects, but fans of futuristic sci-fi action may still find themselves more than sufficiently entertained." It's also worth noting that a whopping 93 percent of fans registered on Rotten Tomatoes gave Alita: Battle Angel a positive review. 

It's interesting that the response to the film (and to Isn't It Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U) didn't equate to higher financial gains, despite reviews not being stellar across the board. 

While Alita: Battle Angel, which follows Dr. Ido as he discovers that Alita's cyborg body carries a human soul and chronicles Alita's acceptance of her identity and her journey to become a Motorball superstar, did well at the domestic box office over the holiday weekend, it has a long way to become a true success. The film cost a reported $170 million to make (excluding cash required for marketing and distribution), and since the film recouped only a fraction of that with its domestic debut earnings, Alita: Battle Angel will likely have to heavily rely on its international earnings to turn a profit. According to executives at other major film studios, Alita needs far more than just $170 million to break even; insiders claim that the film is looking at needing around $500 million worldwide just to make up for what 20th Century Fox has already shelled out to produce and distribute it (via Variety). 

Overseas, Alita: Battle Angel earned $94.4 million — over three times the amount it did stateside — to bring its global yield to $137.4 million. But as it stands, sources are stating that Alita reaching the $500 million mark and surpassing it to actually make money for Fox is a long shot. Comscore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said of Alita: Battle Angel's predicament, "When you swing for the fences in the sci-fi genre, it doesn't come cheap. It seems like if it's original IP, it's tougher to get North American audiences behind those films."

Hopefully things look up for Alita: Battle Angel in the coming weeks.