‘Alita’ beats down ‘Lego Movie 2’ to win a sleepy Presidents Day weekend at the box office

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LOS ANGELES – The sci-fi fantasy “Alita: Battle Angel” topped the charts for the weekend and beat out a number of newcomers, including the meta-romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic” and the horror sequel “Happy Death Day 2U.”

But it’s a victory with a few caveats: It’s leading the slowest Presidents Day weekend at the box office in almost 20 years and has a ways to go to cover the movie’s reported $170 million budget.

The James Cameron-produced film earned an estimated $27.8 million for the weekend, 20th Century Fox says. “Alita” has earned $36.5 million since making its debut Thursday.

Robert Rodriguez directed the futuristic film starring Rosa Salazar as a cyborg with no memory of her past. Critics were mixed on the results, and it’s become just the latest pricey and ambitious non-“Star Wars,” Marvel or DC sci-fi film to do less-than-stellar business at the box office, the last being the Peter Jackson-produced “Mortal Engines.”

It is quite a tumble (56.4 percent) from last year’s record Presidents Day box office when “Black Panther” grossed $202 million for the three-day weekend and propelled the industry total to $286.6 million. The weekend has in recent years been host to the openings of high earners, including “Deadpool” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This year, total weekend earnings amount to only $125 million.

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