20th Century Fox’s Alien: Covenant is expected to claw its way to the top of the weekend box office with a $35 million-$40 million opening frame, ending the two-weekend reign of Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 which will land in second in the low-$30M range.

Covenant will be in play at about 3,600 theaters with a presence at PLF auditoriums and some Imax hubs. The Ridley Scott-directed sequel to 2012’s Prometheus has already made more than $40M in 34 foreign marketsCovenant opens at 7 PM on Thursday.

Meanwhile, GOTG2‘s domestic tally through Tuesday sits at $259M, 37% ahead of GOTG through its first 12 days. That movie finaled at $333.1M.

Having already logged a 77% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, Covenant is in excellent shape heading into the weekend, and in this die-hard summer tentpole market, a film needs to truly impress critics to ensure any kind of long-leg success. Yes, there are few titles that are critic-proof (like Transformers)but for the most part moviegoers make their ticket-buying decisions off this aggregator site. Covenant‘s great score is ahead of Prometheus, which posted a certified RT of 72% fresh, earned a B CinemaScore, opened to $51M (a record debut for the sci-fi franchise) and legged out to a 2.5 multiple with $126M stateside and $403.4M global off a $130M negative cost before P&A. The big plus here for Alien fans is that Covenant stars the classic Xenomorph alien beast who was arguably in beta phase during Prometheus. Fox kept Covenant cheaper than its predecessor in the high-$90M range before P&A.

In what seems like an unconventional distribution plan for a major studio, 20th Century Fox also has another wide release this weekend in Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, but it’s hardly a threat to Alien as the kid pic is targeting family crowds with an eye at $12M at 3,129 venues.

(That said, Fox actually did defeat Warner Bros’ attempt in late March 2011 to lure fanboys with Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch by opening Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules against it, winning the weekend $23.8M-$19.1M.)

Long Haul cost $22M before P&A, which was the same as its predecessor, 2012’s Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. These cash cows — Long Haul is the fourth film — typically deliver to Fox average global ticket sales of $75M per title. Long Haul begins its run at 5 PM Thursday.

Lastly, MGM has through Warner Bros its Stella Meghie-directed teen romance Everything, Everything, which is making a play at girls under 25 — much like its summer release last year, Me Before You. That movie was made for $20M before P&A, and made $56.2M stateside and $207M worldwide. Everything, Everything, based on Nicola Yoon’s novel, is even cheaper at $10M. Pic tells the story about a girl who suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), and falls for the boy next door. Projected opening is $10M-$12M at 2,800-plus locations with previews starting at 5 PM.

Me Before You wound up beating its low-teen projections last year opening to $18.7M; It had an RT of 58% Rotten. We’re still waiting for reviewers to weigh in on Everything, Everything.