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The dust has settled on the weekend box office and it looks like Alien: Covenant has successfully taken home the crown. However, it did so in fairly unspectacular fashion. The film looks to have brought in $36 million at the domestic box office, which only puts it $1 million ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in its third week. How did one of the top film franchises almost lose to a movie that's been out for a month? As is often the case, the answer can be tracked down to the film's marketing plan.
While many major film franchises have found their place in the new "cinematic universe" focused Hollywood, the Alien series has yet to find its footing. Prometheus, the previous film in the franchise was barely an Alien movie and fans of the series made their displeasure known when the movie only gave the barest hint of the xenomorph at the end of the picture. Ridley Scott and the studio heard the displeasure, as Alien: Covenant was presented clearly as an Alien movie. The xenomorph head was literally front and center on the first posters and the creature was all over the trailers. However, as Deadline suggests, this marketing plan may have had the opposite impact from what was ultimately intended. While it got fans of the series excited, those who don't consider themselves Alien fans appear to have stayed home, and those moviegoers may have been the ones that gave Prometheus a bigger opening weekend than Alien: Covenant received simply because that one wasn't an Alien movie in the traditional sense.
On top of that, the casual fan would have had a hard time knowing exactly what Alien: Covenant was all about. The film is, in large part, a sequel to Prometheus but that information was essentially non-existent when it came to the trailers. Which parts of the franchise did fans need to see before they watched Alien: Covenant? The answer was far from clear leading more casual fans, who are the people that turn successful movies into blockbusters, to stay away.
While the box office opening was lackluster, a win is still a win, and when combined with international revenue, Alien: Covenant has already made a solid $117 million which means the film has made back its reported production budget. At the end of the day, this likely means that Ridley Scott's next Alien movie, or movies, it's not entirely clear, are almost certainly safe and will move forward.
Overall, this past weekend at the box office would have been a perfectly acceptable one for most weekends, but it looks a little lethargic for one during the summer season. Unfortunately, that means that major releases are coming every weekend now and Alien: Covenant will almost certainly not get another chance at the top spot with both Disney's next Pirates of the Caribbean film, and The Rock's Baywatch comedy on the horizon.