Welp, Alita: Battle Angel has officially hit North American theaters, and as expected, it didn’t really do that well at the box office. Over the course of the three-day weekend, it brought it south of $30 million, and over the five-day weekend, less than $40 million. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was your average, ordinary film, but with the budget clocking in at a reported $170 million, once incentives and rebates are accounted for, it has a lot of ground to cover.
Sadly, this sub-$30 million weekend simply isn’t going to cut it in this day and age, especially with Captain Marvel just a few weeks around the corner. If you’re a film that’s not a part of an established franchise, and you cost more than $50 million to make, chances are you’ll have a hard time recouping all your costs. Such is the case with Alita: Battle Angel. Taking into account all its costs, this movie will need to break $500 million in order to get into the black…but is that an achievable feat, especially since North America seems like a bust?
“When you swing for the fences in the sci-fi genre, it doesn’t come cheap,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst with Comscore. And when it comes to films that aren’t a part of established franchises….”It’s tougher to get North American audiences behind those films.”
Thus far, including North America, the film has raked in $130 million, but it has yet to premiere in two key markets: China and Japan, where the film is expected to do pretty well. In addition to being a film that could potentially better cater to audience sensibilities, China is a market that is booming, which is in stark contrast to the U.S. market, which is seeing a 20% decrease in ticket sales this year thus far.
“International markets have saved the day for many films,” Dergarabedian continued. “This could be yet another example where the North American box office is secondary.”
If you’re looking for an example of where the international market made all the difference, you need look no further than last year’s Venom, which took in 75% of its take from overseas. But will those audiences actually come out? Your guess is as good as ours.
If nothing else, I can certainly see Alita: Battle Angel being a cult favorite. While the film is teetering between Fresh and Rotten when it comes to critics, the movie scored an A- CinemaScore, meaning that fans who went to see it generally enjoyed it quite a bit.
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