Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Scores Needed Win With $62M China Debut

Alita: Battle Angel-Publicity Still 5-H 2019
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox TM & 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The James Cameron-produced tentpole is still in danger of becoming the year's first big-budget miss.

Alita: Battle Angel secured a key victory with a China debut of $62.3 million, the best showing ever in that market for 20th Century Fox.

Nevertheless, the big-budget cyberpunk adventure — a passion project for James Cameron that was directed by Robert Rodriguez — isn't out of danger financially after costing a net $170 million to produce before marketing.

China's performance is certainly good news. Alita is pacing 8 percent ahead of 2018's Ready Player One, which topped out at $216 million in the Middle Kingdom. One hitch: Alita will face competition in the coming days from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and then Captain Marvel.

In North America, Alita tumbled 58 percent to $12 million for a domestic total of $60 million.

The movie's international total through Sunday, including China, stands at $202.7 million for a worldwide cume of $263.4 million. Fox insiders say the movie needs to reach $350 million globally to break even; outside analysts put that number between $400 million and $500 million.

While it placed No. 2 in North America, Alita topped the foreign weekend chart with a total $94 million.

One of the strongest points in the pic's favor in China is the involvement of Cameron, who is arguably the country's most revered filmmaker, thanks to Avatar and the 3D rerelease of Titanic ($145 million in 2012).

Fox is aggressively marketing Alita as a "James Cameron production" in China. And last week, Cameron hosted the Chinese premiere of Alita at a Wanda cinemaplex in central Beijing, with stars Rosa Salazar and Christoph Waltz also in attendance, along with fellow Alita producer Jon Landau.

Imax theaters in China turned in $9 million, a record for the month of February.

The previous biggest China opening for a Fox release belonged to 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes.

The family offering How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World came in second overseas among Hollywood movies with $34.7 million for a foreign tally of $216.9 million and $274.9 million globally.