This weekend, it’s all about 20th Century Fox. The studio is in the unusual position of opening two sequels, Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” With the second weekend of “Snatched” and the long-running “The Baby Boss,” that should give them four titles in the top 10.
Joining the two new titles is “Everything, Everything” (Warner Bros.), an adaptation of the young-adult novel about the first love of a chronically ill teenage girl. Those three, along with the continued strength of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” could propel top 10 grosses into a second straight week of improvement over last year. A robust Mother’s Day actually pushed last weekend slightly ahead of 2016’s.
“Alien: Covenant” will provide the bulk of the new films’ total, with an estimate of about $45 million. Together, the three films could fall in the range of $75 million, which is what “Angry Birds” and two lesser debuts managed last year.
While it’s the eighth in an almost four-decade series, “Alien: Covenant” remains high budget at a reported $110 million — though less than the last entry, “Prometheus,” also directed by Scott. His most recent release, “The Martian,” was his fourth film (in adjusted grosses) to earn more than $200 million domestic.
“Prometheus” also starred Michael Fassbender and opened in 2012 to $51 million with an early June date, heading to $126 million domestic and just over $400 million worldwide. That’s a decent number for an R-rated film. For “Alien Covenant,” anything over $47 million would make it second only to “Logan” ($88 million) among R-rated releases in the last year.
Initial international returns are good; if it hits a sustained domestic run, it could play close or above “Prometheus,” it would be a positive omen for the sequel-laden summer ahead. More importantly, it would provide some relief after the shock of the dreadful showing for “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” (Warner Bros.), which opened to numbers suggesting a $100 million + loss.
The latest “Wimpy” entry is more of a reboot than sequel, with the kids in the first three outgrowing their roles. This is the first “Wimpy” film in five years, and it was made at the same price point (a reported $22 million). Given its mostly domestic appeal, it could use an opening of around $15 million (higher than anticipated) to elevate its chance at success.
Apart from “Twilight,” the teen-romance genre usually sees openings in the low-to-mid-teens. Like most of these films, “Everything, Everything” is based on a best-selling young adult novel. This one is about a girl confined to her home because of extreme immune-system issues (not unlike John Travolta’s early breakout TV movie, “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble”); that gives it romantic elements that propelled “If I Stay” or breakout “The Fault in Our Stars” in recent years.
At $10 million, this is a low-budget project, of note for its African-Canadian female director (Stella Meghie, in her studio debut) and interracial romance (the lead is Amandla Stenberg, best known from the first “Hunger Games” film).
All three films hope to benefit from word of mouth and the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, when all eyes will be on “Baywatch” and “Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Those are the films that will define where the summer is headed, but this weekend still is an important early barometer.