This past weekend, Alita: Battle Angel endured the wide theatrical opening of Captain Marvel and managed to cross the $300 million box office mark from foreign markets. Now at a combined $384.3 million at the worldwide box office, the manga adaptation is virtually guaranteed to reach the $400 million milestone within the next week or so. However, it has a ways to go yet to hit $500 million worldwide, which hardly a sure thing with a month of release behind it and competition heating up.
With a reported production budget of $170 million (not counting marketing and distribution costs), the $500 million mark is an important one. Hitting it would help the studio break even on expenses and increase the likelihood of a sequel being greenlit. Domestically, the film has failed to make waves with either critics or audiences, earning just $79.2 million and receiving a middling critics' score of 60% on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. As Captain Marvel continues to make waves and theaters prepare for the release of films like Us and Shazam!, the film will be out of most North American theaters within the next two weeks.
But does that matter? After all, the vast majority of Alita's box office earnings have come from the overseas market, with China in particular emerging as the film's largest single market. However, after earning $65 million in its opening weekend, the largest opening for any Fox film in China, the film dropped a staggering 62% in its second weekend in the country, earning just $24 million. While still impressive, this puts the film on pace to earn around $140 million across its entire Chinese release, far below its contemporary counterparts, including Aquaman and Venom which had both received rare extended theatrical runs from the Chinese government due to successful staying power with moviegoing audiences.
It is also important to point out that these diminishing global audiences saw their respective declines before the release of Captain Marvel; Alita simply didn't have the strong word-of-mouth that its superhero counterparts have enjoyed leading to sharper drops in its second weekend. Not even the manga adaptation's native Japan responded terribly well, with the movie earning only $3.2 million in the country during its opening weekend and dropping out of the Japanese top ten highest earning films in theaters by its third weekend.
At its current box office trajectory, Alita: Battle Angel might exceed $90 million at the U.S. domestic box office, though it may perhaps top out around $85 million. Internationally, the film may go to approximately $320 million, assuming around $135-140 million from China, but $350 million at the foreign box office is extremely unlikely. As such, it would be surprising if Alita can even reach $450 million by the end of its worldwide box office run, meaning coveted $500 million mark is a virtual impossibility at this point.
Unless Robert Rodriguez's manga adaptation performs extraordinarily well with its home video release, Alita: Battle Angel is not a sure fire candidate to receive a sequel, especially as Fox's acquisition by Disney will be finalized as early as next week. While the film has had a respectable, if fleeting, successful run in East Asia, its lukewarm reception by the critics and disappointing domestic earnings may cause any plans by writer and executive producer James Cameron to continue the franchise to become little more than a pipe dream. China had been the film's best chance for a viable franchise future but, at the end of the day, audiences simply weren't impressed enough to keep coming back for more.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Lana Condor and Eiza González. The film is in theaters now.