Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” the latest in the long-running franchise, is hoping to burst out of a box office chest this weekend, likely giving a boost to Hollywood’s early summer season after “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” met a grisly fate at the multiplex.
The sci-fi horror sequel is expected to unseat “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at the top of the domestic charts, after two weeks of dominance by the Marvel misfits, who have grossed more than $630 million at the global box office. “Covenant” will test the continued appetite for the interplanetary gore of the “Alien” series that is approaching its 40th birthday.
Meanwhile, two other newcomers — a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” sequel and the weepy teen drama “Everything, Everything” — will try to find their own target audiences who aren’t into the R-rated scares.
Here’s what to watch:
Another ‘Alien’ hit?
In an era of aging franchises, “Alien” theoretically represents a scary scenario for a studio. “Alien: Covenant" is the eighth film the 20th Century Fox property, counting the two widely panned “Alien Vs. Predator” movies. It’s also a sequel to 2012’s “Prometheus,” a heady quasi-prequel to the original 1979 “Alien.” (Still with us?)
Nonetheless, “Covenant” has generated strong interest among moviegoers, thanks to heightened anticipation among “Alien” fans stoked by gruesome marketing and generally positive reviews. Yes, the philosophical “Prometheus" confused many “Alien” fans with an origin-of-man back story that conspicuously lacked the famous creatures designed by surrealist H.R. Giger. In an about-face, the trailers for “Covenant” put the xenomorphs and facehuggers front and center.
The movie is poised to generate a strong $40 million to $50 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, according to people who have reviewed audience tracking surveys. That would be a similar result to “Prometheus” five years ago, which ended up collecting $400 million worldwide after opening with $51 million domestically.
A ‘Wimpy Kid’ vs. teen lovers
As Fox tries to lure horror fiends to the multiplex with “Alien,” the same studio will offer up a new family film: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” The fourth movie in the series of live-action children’s book adaptations is tracking to open with $12 million, slightly less than the most recent “Wimpy Kid" installment from 2012. The 2010 original debuted with $22 million on its way to $64 million in domestic sales.
However, it’s been more than a month since the last major kids movie (a “Smurfs” cartoon that flopped for Sony), so families could turn out in greater-than-expected numbers. Plus, the movie carried a relatively low price tag, costing $22 million to produce.
Another wildcard is Warner Bros. and MGM’s “Everything, Everything,” a young-adult tearjerker about a teen girl who’s sealed off from the world because she has a severe immune system disease, but falls for the guy next door. Trackers have pegged the movie with a $10 million to $12 million opening, a respectable debut for a movie that cost $10 million to make. But there’s a chance it will perform more like Warner’s 2014 romance “If I Stay," which bowed with a solid $15.7 million and ended up with a total of $50 million in its stateside run.
A strong debut for “Everything, Everything” would be welcome news for Warner Bros. after “King Arthur” grossed a paltry $15 million against a $175-million production budget, making it one of the biggest flops of the year so far. Poor reviews were partly to blame for crippling the Guy Ritchie-directed epic, which fell short of low box-office expectations.