Box Office: 'Alien: Covenant' Narrowly Beats 'Guardians 2' With Sluggish $36M

Alien Covenant - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Elsewhere, 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul' bombs, while YA film adaptation 'Everything, Everything' lures younger girls.

In a surprise turn, Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant came in behind expectations at the North American box office over the weekend with a $36 million debut from 3,760 theaters.

While that was enough to place No. 1 and beat Disney/Marvel holdover Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the race was much closer than it should have been. Guardians Vol. 2 earned $35.1 million from 4,347 cinemas in its third weekend, putting the superhero sequel's domestic total at $301.8 million and global cume of $732.6 million.

Scott's second installment in the Alien prequel franchise cost $97 million to make and opened 29 percent behind the first prequel, Prometheus, which debuted to $51.5 million domestically in August 2012.

Alien: Covenant is faring somewhat better overseas, where it has grossed $81.8 million to date for a worldwide tally of $117.8 million. It earned $30.3 million internationally in its sophomore outing (it debuted offshore a week early), but, as in the U.S., didn't do much more than Guardians Vol. 2's $28 million.

Heading into the weekend, Alien: Covenant was tipped to gross $40 million to $45 million in North America. Friday returns also suggested the same, but the forecast changed on Saturday and the film, like so many other Hollywood titles in recent times, seemed to be struck by a case of franchise fatigue. The movie received solid reviews, although audiences gave it a more mediocre B CinemaScore.

Alien: Covenant features an ensemble cast led by Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup. This time out, the crew of the colony ship Covenant think they have discovered paradise, only to encounter hostile and dangerous alien forces.

Scott's film skewed male (62 percent), while 60 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18 and 34. 

Elsewhere, two smaller films targeting younger moviegoers opened to varying results: Warner Bros. and MGM's YA romance drama Everything, Everything and Fox's reboot Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.

Everything, Everything debuted at No. 3 with $12 million from 2,801 locations. Based on Nicola Yoon's best-selling 2015 novel about an 18-year-old girl who can't leave her home because of a mysterious immune disorder, the $10 million film targeted tween and teen girls (82 percent of ticket buyers were female). Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson star in the pic, which came in on the higher end of expectations after snagging an A- CinemaScore.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, based on the popular kids' book series, bombed with $7 million from 3,157 theaters, likely dashing any hope of reviving the film franchise. The pic, which earned a B CinemaScore, went after moviegoers between the ages of 6 and 12. It did half as much business as the last outing, 2012's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, while the first two films opened in the low $20 million range.

The Long Haul placed No. 5 behind fellow Fox film Snatched starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. The R-rated comedy fell 61 percent in its second outing to $7.6 million from 3,511 theaters for a 10-day domestic total of $32.8 million.

That's a better showing than Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, the first major bomb of summer 2017. The $175 million film fell 55 percent in its second weekend to $6.8 million from 3,702 theaters for a 10-day domestic cume of $27.2 million and placed No. 7.

Overseas, King Arthur's blade also remains dull. The tentpole earned $27.7 million as it expanded into a total of 64 markets, including a U.K. debut of $3.3 million, for a foreign cume of $66.2 million and a worldwide tally of $93.4 million.

Weekend Box Office 5/21/17

Weekend Box Office Chart Actuals - Source: comScore
Weekend Cume Theaters Week
1. Alien: Covenant $36.2M $36.2M 3,761 1
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 $34.7M $301.4M 4,347 3
3. Everything, Everything $11.7M $11.7M 2,801 1
4. Snatched $7.8M $33.0M 3,511 2
5. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword $7.2M $27.5M 3,702 2
6. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul $7.1M $7.1M 3,157 1
7. The Fate of the Furious $3.2M $219.9M 2,287 6
8. The Boss Baby $2.8M $166.2M 2,071 8
9. Beauty and the Beast $2.5M $497.9M 1,792 10
10. How to be a Latin Lover $2.1M $29.3M 948 4