Weekend Wrap-Up

By Tim Briody

February 17, 2019

Alita Possible

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Alright folks, I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit, but after these last two weekends, there's a lot riding on How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World to determine what kind of year it's going to be at the box office. Based on this year so far? It's going to be absolutely miserable.

Three new releases try their luck this weekend, all of them officially opening before Friday to cash in on the moderate box office bump that is Valentine's Day. One's on brand for the weekend, one's a sequel to a surprise horror hit, and the other is...uh, a thing.

The thing is the #1 movie this weekend as Alita: Battle Angel earns $27.8 million for the weekend, with another $8.7 million from Thursday for a not bad $36.5 million in four days. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written and co-produced by James Cameron, the CGI-heavy (wtf is with those eyes?!) manga adaptation likely hit its domestic ceiling here, as it was banking on the name recognition behind the scenes and also its visual style to draw in viewers. The opening weekend here is fine, but what's potentially troublesome is the reported $170 million budget, a figure Alita has no hope of matching domestically. All is not lost, though, as it's already proving to be a big hit overseas, having earned nearly $100 million internationally. That figure doesn't include China or Japan, expected to be two of the bigger markets for the film. When there's a sequel in a couple of years, that's going to be why.

Alita: Battle Angel doesn't stand much of a chance of holding well. While the target audience may get what they want out of it, it's not getting the type of word-of-mouth that's going to bring in people on the fence or those put off by the visual style. It's probably headed for about $80 million here, but it's the foreign earnings that are going to carry the day.

After a stunningly disappointing opening weekend, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part slides 38% to $21.2 million this weekend, giving it $62.6 million in ten days, which is still under the opening weekend of the first one ($69 million in 2014). The second sign of 2019 (after Glass) that this may not be a great year at the box office, The LEGO Movie 2 is still on track for $100 million, but that's a stunning fall from the first movie, which earned $257.7 million.


Isn't It Romantic takes advantage of the Valentine's Day box office weekend by opening on Wednesday and earning $14.2 million for the weekend and $20.4 million in five days. Starring Rebel Wilson as a woman who finds herself in a trope-filled world of romantic comedies, the performance here is just fine, and it only cost $31 million, which it'll have matched by the end of next weekend. Reviews were mostly positive (69% Fresh) and it got a decent Valentine's Day bump, going from $1.8 million on Wednesday to $4.4 million on Thursday, which was ahead of Friday's $4.1 million. Comedies in general had a pretty rough 2018 and 2019 so far seems to continue the trend, but even with a $45 million total, Warner Bros. will come out ahead on this one.

What Men Want slides 40% in its second weekend to $10.9 million and $36.1 million to date, also seeing a slight bump on Valentine's Day, which slightly topped this Friday. Headed to $55 million, it's a winner for Paramount as it only cost $40 million.

It's a good news/bad news situation for the third opener of the weekend, Happy Death Day 2U. The good news is that being a Blumhouse production, with a $9.8 million opening, it's already made back its budget, which was $9 million. Add in what it earned since its Wednesday opening, and it's got $13.5 million in five days. The bad news is that the original Happy Death Day opened to $26 million in October of 2017. It's another stunning freefall for a sequel that felt like a sure thing just weeks ago, the third time this has happened in 2019, and we're only midway through February. Leaning slightly more into the comedic side of the time loop aspect of the story than the original's horror bent, Happy Death Day 2U managed just enough positive reviews to rate 66% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, but I think it was a fairly review proof genre. It's just that without a huge hook to see a premise the second time, audiences are now becoming more willing to wait to see a movie at home rather than rush out to the theater. Universal is already ahead on this one, but they've got to be disappointed with the idea that Happy Death Day 2U's final total could end up being the opening weekend of Happy Death Day.

Cold Pursuit lands in sixth with $6 million, down 46% from opening weekend, and it has earned $21.1 million in two weeks. I don't think AngryNeeson52's comments were impactful to Mr. Plow's box office, but rather it's more that audiences are tired of the Old Man Kicks Ass genre and that Taken was simply lightning in a bottle.

The Upside continues to reign as 2019's leggiest film and approaches the promised land, adding $5.5 million (down 21%) and has $94.1 million in six weekends. It's going to end up as STX Entertainment's second biggest film of all time as distributor, after Bad Moms ($113 million).

Some more good news is this week's box office, we have our first $100 million film of 2019 as Glass earns $3.8 million in its fifth weekend to give it $104.4 million as it reached $100 million on Thursday. This is still a disappointing total after Split's success, but it's still the biggest film of the year so far.

The Prodigy drops 46% to ninth place with $3.1 million and $11 million in two weekends. Cheap horror again succeeds, much like Happy Death Day 2U. This one only cost $6 million, so it's a win for the reboot of Orion Pictures, who will also be bringing a reboot of Child's Play later on this year.

With the new releases finally kicking Aquaman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse out of the top ten, the remaining 2018 holdover is Green Book, earning $2.7 million (down 20%) for the weekend and a total of $65.7 million in the 14 weeks since its release over Thanksgiving. Boosted by its multiple Oscar nominations, where Mahershala Ali is a lock for Best Supporting Actor and the movie considered one of the top three choices to take home the big prize of Best Picture, this is likely the last time it's mentioned here. Made for just $23 million, it's certainly been very successful for Universal.

I could compare this weekend's box office to last year, but that was when Black Panther opened so you know what? You can figure out what happened. It's a pretty ugly comparison, let's leave it at that.

Next weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a make or break moment for the 2019 box office. Should this one also underwhelm, it's going to be a pretty long year, unless you're Disney.

Top Ten for Weekend of February 15-17, 2019
Gross ($)
Weekly Change
Gross ($)
1 Alita: Battle Angel 20th Century Fox 27.8 New 36.5
2 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Warner Bros. 21.2 -38% 62.9
3 Isn't It Romantic Warner Bros. 14.2 New 20.4
4 What Men Want Paramount Pictures 10.9 -40% 36.1
5 Happy Death Day 2U Universal 9.8 New 13.5
6 Cold Pursuit Lionsgate 6.0 -46% 21.1
7 The Upside STX Enertainment 5.5 -21% 94.1
8 Glass Universal 3.8 39% 104.4
9 The Prodigy Orion Pictures 3.1 -46% 11.0
10 Green Book Universal 2.7 -20% 65.7
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations



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