Alita: Battle Angel is leading the box office this weekend, but it's a small victory. The Presidents' Day weekend box office is projected to be awful all around, with Angel pulling in the biggest take of $29 million over the four-day weekend.
The numbers look even worse when held up to the early blockbuster's budget. The James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez-led sci-fi epic cost 20th Century Fox $200 million to make. The Hollywood Reporter says that that number came down to around $165 million to $170 million after tax rebates and incentives. A projected take of $29 million on opening weekend isn't a promising start on recouping that investment.
The Lego Movie sequel nearly matched Alita in its second week in theaters. The Second Chapter pulled in $4.5 million on Friday for a projected weekend gross of $27 million. Rebel Wilson's Isn't It Romantic, the gender-flipped remake What Men Want and the high-concept horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U round out the top five.
The poor showing wasn't what Robert Rodriguez was expecting, as he said that he thought the cyberpunk manga adaptation would connect with American audiences in an interview with Complex earlier this week.
"I think people will be so surprised by how accessible, emotional and relatable it is. Even [Alita author Yukito] Kishiro was shocked that it had that much heart in it," he said. It’s got to connect to people who don’t know what a manga is, who don’t care about science fiction. They have to walk away thinking this movie is for them. [James Cameron]’s stories have themes that are bigger than the genre that they’re in. That’s what he does."