When Ridley Scott’s latest Alien prequel was branded Alien: Covenant, the general assumption went that it would thus turn out to be more of an Alien movie than its predecessor in the series, 2012’s Prometheus – or, at least, that Scott and 20th Century Fox wanted audiences to think it was, and to make a more direct link to the series in their minds (and, thus, their wallets). Neither the assumption of the first nor the presumption of the second turned out to be true; Covenant, while blessed with a couple of magnificent set pieces, ultimately breaks down in the face of its Prometheus-style undergrad dorm philosophizing, and it posted much lower numbers in its opening weekend: a disappointing $36 million, compared to Prometheus’s $51 million.
Now, to be fair, $36 million is still a damn impressive opening for an R-rated sci-fi/horror/navel-gazer with no sure-thing box office stars. But it does seem to indicate that a fair portion of the target audience was turned off by Prometheus, and will have to be lured back by stronger word of mouth than Covenant is accumulating.
Its primary spoiler appears to be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is showing surprisingly strong legs in its third weekend; it’s $35.1 million estimate means Covenant only topped it in a photo finish (and that could reverse when the final numbers come in later today). Sure, the tones of the movies are wildly different, but in retrospect, maybe two ensemble franchise space flicks in the same month wasn’t such a great idea after all.