The James Cameron-produced Alita: Battle Angel is beating expectations so far in its box office debut, and is easily dominating Valentine's Day, according to early returns.
Alita is on course to earn $8 million to $9 million on Thursday, including $2.4 million in previews. That puts the movie on pace to earn $36 million to $38 million in its five-day debut if traffic holds, good enough for a first-place finish ahead of Isn't It Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U.
The trio of films are opening midweek in advance of Valentine's Day and the long President's Day weekend.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita is a huge gamble for 20th Century Fox, considering the performance-capture pic cost as much as $200 million to produce before marketing (after rebates and tax incentives, the budget was $165 million-$170 million). The cyberpunk adventure, starring Rosa Salazar, was written by Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis. Cameron produced alongside his partner at Lightstorm, Jon Landau.
Alita has the benefit of playing on higher-priced Imax, premium large format and 3D screens.
Looking to be the date-night choice on Valentine's Day, New Line's Isn't it Romantic is on course for a $4.4 million-$5.4 million Thursday after debuting to $1.8 million on Wednesday. The film's projected six-day debut is now in the $20 million-$23 million range.
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