Alita: Battle Angel has shattered (low) expectations for its performance of the box office, and the run is still ongoing. As of writing this, Alita: Battle Angel has made $286 million at the worldwide box office (on a $170M budget). The film has shown impressive staying power, still scoring in the top 3 a the US box office this week.
As Exhibitor Relations points out, the film is now sitting on the bubble of questions surrounding its franchise potential - starting with a sequel:
Fox's ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL has now assembled $223M internationally.— Exhibitor Relations Co. (@ERCboxoffice) February 28, 2019
And the biggest question—is that enough? Only Fox, er Disney, knows for sure. Plus, Cameron is now full tilt into AVATAR sequels. This would be up to RR to move it forward, most likely. And he’ll need to reel in the budget to make that happen, obviously.— Exhibitor Relations Co. (@ERCboxoffice) February 28, 2019
Agreed. It's worth pursuing as long as the budget is restrained and Disney figures out how to capitalize on the potential merch. Hear they're pretty good at that sort of thing.— Exhibitor Relations Co. (@ERCboxoffice) February 28, 2019
Battle Angel has gotten a surge thanks to its strong overseas openings - particularly in Japan and China. Those foreign markets are proving to be very lucrative to the anime adaptation genre, whose fans can be terribly fickle, proving that director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron managed to do right by the original Alita manga and anime, in the eyes of fans.
Alita now finds itself alongside another anime-inspired blockbuster film, which also struggled with the question of whether there was franchise potential: Pacific Rim. That film also scored well at the international box office ($309M) and did well enough domestically ($101M), but due to the film's nearly $200M budget, it was deemed a risk for full franchise rollout. It would take half a decade before Pacific Rim: Uprising arrived in theaters. While the sequel did a lot less business stateside ($50M), it still held strong internationally ($231M).
That's a pretty clear example for 20th Century Fox (and now Disney) to weigh in consideration. The question is how executives are looking at the industry; some see great opportunity in making film aimed more at the foreign market, while others still view the domestic box office as *the* only gold standard for a film's success. If there's one last lesson to learn from Pacific Rim, it may be this: once the visual effects deisgns get done the first time around, it's much easier to implement them in a sequel. A more fixed budget could be all the swaying Fox needs.
Alita: Battle Angel is now playing in theaters.
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