Normally, the weekly box office results are a foregone conclusion. There's usually only one major film release on any given weekend, perhaps with a couple of smaller entries, and those who estimate what the numbers will look like have gotten pretty good at being right. However, for the first time in a long time we're going to have a real race for the number one spot at the box office this weekend as three films vie for the top spot, and all three are predicted to do about the same amount of business.
This weekend sees Happy Death Day 2U, Isn't it Romantic and Alita: Battle Angel all opening in theaters. HDD technically opened yesterday and the other two open today and with Monday being the Presidents' Day holiday, it's essentially a five-day weekend at the box office. What makes this holiday weekend especially interesting, however, is that there is no clear front runner. All three films are looking at totals estimated to be between $20 and $25 million.
According to Box Office Pro, Happy Death Day 2U is expected to be the winner, with estimates putting the film at $25 million. Alita: Battle Angel is looking at $22 million and Isn't it Romantic is looking at third place with about $20 million. But those numbers are so close together that it's really anybody's game.
It's unusual to have this sort of a close race when it comes to the box office. Normally, the studios stake out the weekends well in advance and once one major film gets set, the rest steer clear in order to actively avoid the competition. Alita: Battle Angel feels like the movie that was trying to be the blockbuster release for this weekend. However, since the film is based on an anime that the broader audience isn't all that familiar with, it's not expected to do the same sorts of numbers that other action tentpoles might do.
While there will be natural competition between the three movies for the consumer's dollar, each has the benefit of playing to a different audience. Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to a popular horror movie. Alita: Battle Angel will scratch the itch for the action fan, and Isn't it Romantic is a romantic comedy.
The fact that today is Valentine's Day might help out Isn't it Romantic. If there's a movie that might exceed current projections, that might very well be the one.
However the box office turns out, it will likely be close. Isn't it Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U are likely excited by the potential numbers, as both films were relatively cheap to produce, so a $20 million weekend is just fine. For Alita: Battle Angel and its reported $170 million budget, it will need to exceed its projections by quite a bit to have a weekend considered to be successful, though the movie might do much better with international audiences.