UPDATED, writethru: Fox/Lightstorm’s Alita: Battle Angel came out fighting in China this weekend, touching down with a $62.3 million debut, per Fox’s estimates. The figure is even higher — at $64.8M — according to local reporting. Whichever way the dust settles, this is Fox’s biggest opening of all time in the Middle Kingdom as well as a new February Imax record.
In total this session, Alita winged to another estimated $92.4M across 82 markets to lift the international box office cume to $202.7M. She is currently pacing 3% above Ready Player One and 64% over The Maze Runner in like-for-like markets and at today’s exchange rates. After a 58% drop domestically this weekend, the Robert Rodriguez-helmed sci-fi fantasy has grossed $263.3M globally (using the Fox estimates; actuals will be updated early in the week). A worldwide finish above $400M is expected, though Alita remains a pricey break-even proposition and only recoups 25% of Chinese turnstiles — finance sources still believe that Alita will have a hard time seeing profit.
While the Middle Kingdom has been feasting on its own homegrown sci-fi epic, The Wandering Earth ($647M in China through Sunday and counting), it had plenty of appetite left for Alita which this weekend became the first Hollywood title in the market following the Lunar New Year holiday rush. Having revered figure James Cameron on hand didn’t hurt. He, along with Rodriguez, producer Jon Landau, stars Rosa Salazar and Christoph Waltz, and the source material’s author Yukito Kishiro, visited Beijing on Monday for a well-attended press conference. In a savvy stroke of synergy, Cameron also delighted fans by sitting down with the author of The Wandering Earth’s source material and for an interview by that film’s director.
From there, a lot went right with Alita in China. It made $9M from 603 Imax screens to log the top Fox opening in the format and the best China Imax start for February ever. The Maoyan score is a terrific 8.9 while Douban is 7.6 and even the Chinese poster has generated strong social sentiment. Depending on the holds this week and next weekend, Alita has a shot at $150M in China, but will significantly lose screens when Captain Marvel opens on March 8.
The manga adaptation is in its third weekend of offshore release after Fox went out early in many South East Asia markets to tap into the Chinese New Year holiday. Driven by Asia, overseas is the play on Alita which will rely on international to carry the bulk of the box office. The drop in holdovers this session was 45% with some tight grips in France, Germany and more.
Down the line, if Cameron — who is delivering Avatar 2 for Christmas 2020 — has his druthers, sequels could certainly be in the offing. He recently told Reuters, “If people show up, we’re definitely going to do at least one more if not two. It’s mapped out for three in total.”
In other international play, there were no new wide Hollywood releases this weekend. Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s domestic opener, domestic debut, the worldwide total is $275M. China opens next weekend., has already been zooming around the globe for weeks, and continued its charmed ride with a $34.7M session in 53 markets this frame. The offshore cume on Hiccup and Toothless’ threequel is now $216.9M. Combined with the
Meanwhile, as noted above, The Wandering Earth continued its stellar trajectory. The Chinese New Year title has grossed $679.3M in three markets, including $647M in the Middle Kingdom where it became the No. 2 movie ever last week (Netflix this week acquired SVOD rights outside China). The Imax total is $45M in China. Combined with Alita, IMAX has had a record February at the Chinese box office, reaching RMB 418M/$61.7M.
And, as we head into the Oscars tonight, co-leading nominee The Favourite has crossed $50M internationally while Green Book is closing in on $75M and Bohemian Rhapsody has risen to $648M.
Next weekend will be more of the same with no major new wide release until Captain Marvel starts offshore rollout on March 6. As with the past several frames, China will be the one to watch as Alita continues, HTTYD3 bows, and Green Book could see an Oscar halo there.
In the meantime, breakdowns on the films above and more have been updated below.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
Fox/Lightstorm’s sci-fi fantasy was No. 1 in 18 markets this session, with a 45% drop in holdovers. The frame was led, predictably, by China where the start is $62.3M according to Fox but higher per local box office reporting at $64.8M. Sunday is coming in at $20.3M, an 18% Saturday to Sunday drop (better than predicted) in the Middle Kingdom where word of mouth has been solid with a strong 8.9 score on ticketing platform Maoyan. Midweeks will help ascertain how front-loaded the film is. The opening set a new record for Fox and an IMAX February record at $9M or 14% of the local take. Alita will lose some of those screens to How To Train Your Dragon 3 next weekend, and then be pushed out entirely by Captain Marvel the following session. The question now becomes how high it can fly across the $100M Middle Kingdom mark.
The film has a similar underdog vs The Man theme to Ready Player One, and a hope has been to see Alita emulate the China success that RP1 enjoyed in 2018 when it bowed to $61.7M and cumed over $218M there. That included an extended run with the film also tapping into video game culture. Alita has James Cameron — revered in China — in its favor, but it is also facing competition ahead.
With a global total of $263.3M through Sunday, the expensive movie is looking to final at a worldwide cume above $400M, though getting to profit is still a tricky proposition. The current weekend grossed $92.4M in 82 markets and saw some good holds. France was off 29% for an $11.14M cume; Germany dipped 32% for $5.3M to date; and Australia held No. 1 to cume $5.3M so far.
Asia is the driver with a debut of $3.2M in Japan for the No. 1 spot. Korea is the lead market behind China at $16M and Taiwan has cumed $8M in first place for the third weekend in a row.
The international total is now $202.7M, which is bigger than Ready Player One (+3%) and The Maze Runner (+64%) at current exchange rates.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
Hiccup and Toothless had a franchise-high domestic debut this weekend, several frames after their threequel began offshore rollout in early January. The current weekend overseas on the Universal/DreamWorks Animation title was $34.7M with strong play through European school vacations. Internationally, the total is now $216.9M for $275M worldwide.
HTTYD3 is playing in 53 offshore markets including nine new homes this session. They’re led by Russia’s $11.2M from 1,810 locations at No. 1. That’s followed by Spain at No. 1 with $2.8M from 352 sites, and the Philippines with $1.7M at 212 locations and No. 1. In holds, the UK was up 5% for a $20.3M cume, France dipped just 27% for $16.7M to date and Germany was down 39% for $13.9M. Mexico likewise fell 39% for an $18.7M total after four frames. Still to come are China and Japan with the former opening on Friday.
THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART
Warner Bros’ sequel, the fourth movie in the franchise to be released in just the past few years, added $10.3M from 8,572 screens in 73 overseas markets. An underwhelming performance thus far, the film has now cumed $53M internationally and $136.6M worldwide.
School holidays in Europe helped propel some better business this weekend with the UK up 3% for a running cume of $18.3M at No. 1. France and Italy both opened this frame with $1.2M from 452 screens and $963K from 500, respectively.
The UK leads all play, followed by Russia ($3.2M), Poland ($3M), Germany ($2.7M) and Mexico ($2.5M). The final key market release is Australia on March 21.
As it heads into Oscar night, Best Picture nominee Green Book added $8.6M at the international box office this weekend. That’s across 59 combined Lionsgate and Amblin markets and brings the running cume to $74.4M ahead of the China opening (off a flat sale) next session. Lionsgate’s markets have amassed $41.2M so far; Denmark was a No. 1 opener this weekend at $709K while France topped the 1M admissions milestone for $8.2M to date (France’s national news radio today was predicting Green Book as the Oscar winner). For Amblin, the drop this weekend was 14% across 11 markets for a $33.17M cume to date and strong holds. Behind France, the UK ($8.1M), Italy ($6.7M), Australia ($6.4M) and Russia ($6M) round out the Top 5. China and Japan open Friday.
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U
Universal/Blumhouse’s sequel unwrapped $6.1M in the second offshore session, cuming $20.9M internationally and $42.5M worldwide. Strong horror market Brazil was the top opening in the frame at $844K from 494 locations and 13% ahead of Truth Or Dare. Malaysia had a good start at No. 2 with $411K from 139 locations and 58% above the previous microbudget installment. Germany led the way for holdovers, dipping 28% to cume $1.8M so far. The lead market overall is Korea at $2.9M, followed by Germany, the UK and France ($1.7M) and Indonesia ($1.34M). Still on deck are Italy, Russia and Japan among others.
MISC UPDATED CUMES/NOTABLE
Ralph Breaks The Internet (DIS): $5.1M intl weekend (26 markets); $314.6M intl cume
The Favourite (FOX): $3.7M intl weekend (49 markets); $51.1M intl cume
Bohemian Rhapsody (FOX): $3.2M intl weekend (33 markets); $647.7M intl cume
Instant Family (PAR): $3M intl weekend (22 markets); $43.5M intl cume
The Mule (WB): $3M intl weekend (35 markets); $44.7M intl cume
Nicky Larson And Cupid’s Perfume (SNY): $2M intl weekend (France only); $10.2M France cume
Aquaman (WB): $1.9M intl weekend (58 markets); $805.9M intl cume ($1.13B WW)
Escape Room (SNY): $1.8M intl weekend (41 markets); $62.5M intl cume
Loudspeaker (SNY): $1.8M intl weekend (Russia only); $6M Russia cume
Glass (DIS): $1.6M intl weekend (35 markets); $133M intl cume
What Men Want (PAR): $1.6M intl weekend (10 markets); $4.6M intl cume
A Dog’s Way Home (SNY): $1.4M intl weekend (32 markets); $21.9M intl cume
Mary Poppins Returns (DIS): $1.2M intl weekend (16 markets); $174.1M intl cume
The Kid Who Would Be King (FOX): $913K intl weekend (14 markets); $9.4M intl cume
My Best Friend’s Wedding (SNY): $810K intl weekend (Mexico only); $4.1M Mexico cume
Fox Star’s Bollywood comedy Total Dhamaal grossed $9.6M at No. 1 in India this weekend, seeing increases throughout the frame. In total in two Fox Star markets, the Indra Kumar-directed entry into the franchise made $9.9M. An adventure comedy, it stars Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor. In Korea, Svaha: The Sixth Finger grossed $8.9M at No. 1 per local reporting. The thriller from director Jang Jae-hyn connects a cult to a series of mysterious cases of missing teenage girls.