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Box Office Breakdown: Newcomers Falter in Unimpressive Presidents Day Weekend

Well it wasn’t the Presidents Day weekend Hollywood was hoping for, nor was it the one it needed. In fact it was the lowest grossing President’s Day weekend in 15 years at the box office as holdovers and new entries failed to impress. Three big new releases were on the slate for the weekend all trying to make up for the relatively lackluster performance of WB’s “The Lego Movie 2” last weekend and try to revive what has been a slow start to 2019. Meanwhile Oscar weekend is upon us and contenders had their final opportunity to earn some viewer love before the awards are announced on Sunday. So, who were the big winners and losers of President’s Day weekend 2019? Let’s find out in this week’s Box Office Breakdown.

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Let’s start with the leader of the pack, 20th Century Fox’s manga adaptation “Alita: Battle Angel”. Despite early expectations that the film would bomb so bad it wouldn’t even land at number one, “Alita” did in fact become the highest grossing film of the long weekend surpassing already conservative projections to earn a still-disappointing $27.8 million domestically. The James Cameron produced picture is the first fiction piece for the “Avatar” director since his 2009 monster hit and was not expected to make waves after a troubled production history and being moved from the busy December lineup to the much less busy President’s Day weekend. Projections had “Alita” earning as much as $33 million by the end of the holiday although final numbers weren’t released as of this write-up. Combine that with its preview numbers from Tuesday and Wednesday and you have a potential $41 million weekend for a film that cost over $170 million to make. Even by the most liberal standards that is a tough start for such an expensive film, although “Alita” cleaned up internationally with $94.3 million in total over the last two weekends. “Alita” will need to make over $500 million to turn a profit and earn the sequel that it’s conclusion teases. You can read my review of “Alita: Battle Angel” here.

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Coming in second was “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” earning $21.2 million in its second weekend and you have to drop to third for the next new entry on the chart, “Isn’t It Romantic”. The Rebel Wilson-led satirical comedy targeting rom-com clichés took in $14.2 million over the three-day weekend and is expected to earn between $16 million and $17 million overall by the end of the holiday run. Combine this with previews and “Isn’t It Romantic” is looking at a near $23 million debut over its first six days. The film received mixed reviews from audiences, and you can read my take on the comedy here. Next up in fourth was another carryover from last week, “What Men Want”. The reboot of the Mel Gibson-led “What Women Want” earned $10.9 million over the holiday and could reach up to $38 million in total over its first two weekends by the end of the holiday.

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Rounding out the top five is the final new entry in the top ten, “Happy Death Day 2U”. An interesting case of a genre switch for a sequel, the follow-up to the 2017 slasher “Happy Death Day” changed up the formula to embrace a more sci-fi comedy vibe but that wasn’t enough to bring in the viewership its predecessor managed. “Happy Death Day 2U” settled for $9.8 million over the three-day weekend and around $15 million estimated for its entire six-day run, $5 million below expectations. The original film debuted with $26 million on its way to a $125.5 million worldwide gross. “Happy Death Day 2U” did earn another $11 million overseas but it will take a strong run to even match its predecessor. That said though, like many horror films the sequel comes with a small $9 million budget and has already earned that back nearly two-fold in domestic numbers alone. You can read my review of “Happy Death Day 2U” here. Following “Happy Death Day 2U” to complete the top ten were “Cold Pursuit”, “The Upside”, “Glass”, “The Prodigy”, and the Oscar nominated “Green Book”. Fellow Oscar nominee “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” fell out of the top ten for the first time in its run as did “Aquaman”. They landed in 11th and 12th respectively. “Aquaman” has also earned another milestone topping “Batman V. Superman” to become the second highest grossing DC Extended Universe film in the United States behind only “Wonder Woman”.

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This weekend has only one movie to watch out for and it’s a sure-fire pick for the top spot next Monday. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” will debut concluding the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy and is pretty much guaranteed to top the competition with only the expanded release of “Fighting with My Family” and holdovers to challenge it on Oscar weekend. We’ll see how thing shake out this time next week. Stay tuned!

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