Alien: Covenant brings in $4.2 million at Thursday box office

The star plays a scientist who is also religious a rarity for futuristic sci-fi
Screengrab Twentieth Century Fox Billy Crudup in 'Alien Covenant'
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20 May, 2017

The spaceship Covenant and its crew are on a journey to a remote planet that will take seven years to reach in hopes of starting a colony (an Earth-2) populated by the 2,000 colonists now on board in hibernation. Fassbender occupies two roles in Covenant, the unbound David and also Walter, a later-model synthetic who is outwardly identical, but with hardwired inhibitions on his behavior and thinking. Things go south instantly, as the ship is struck by a solar blast, killing its captain. Dany (Katherine Waterston) is a standout as the crew's terraforming expert-turned-heroine. This, of course, makes it easier for said characters to make dumb decisions - Crudup's choice to land on this unusual planet is more logical than stupid, but most of the decisions he and others make afterwards are just idiotic. They're intercut with brief flashes of point-of-view footage on the planet, ultimately making for an ominous bit of foreshadowing.

Should the $42 million estimate hold for "Alien: Covenant", it will match recent expectations, which pegged it in the $40 million to $45 million range. Returning to the project in 2012 for a prequel named Prometheus-a smart move after Jeunet butchered Alien: Resurrection-Scott revived interest in the collection with a tale that placed more emphasis on the philosophy of existence than gut-wrenching Xenomorph massacres. Whatever his reason for promoting Prometheus in that way, at least it's fully acknowledged this time. Hell, Scott wants it both ways, blending action elements recognizable from Aliens into the horror framework of the original.

It's the little warning we hear all the time.

A space colonization crew happens upon a planet inhabited by the race of aliens.

So, rather than sift through the nearly 30 videos that 20th Century Fox has put out associated with the film, here are the essential videos to watch before you actually go and see Alien: Covenant.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Colony ship UCSS Covenant is still seven years away from its destination when a rogue neutrino wave temporarily disables it, killing several members of the crew. There are a lot of other crew members, but they don't make an impression the way the crew of the Nostromo or the squad of Marines aboard the Sulaco did. You get to know the rest of the crew, but not almost enough to care deeply when the deaths begin. Things don't go well on the new planet, because (spoiler alert!) there are some pretty scary aliens hanging out there. However, we can tell you that Prometheus opened to a 3-day weekend of $51M and ended its run at $126.4M domestically and $403.3M worldwide when it bowed on June 8 of that year.

Covenant is as much a love/hate movie as you will ever see.

Eventually, Alien would supplant Aliens as the my favorite Alien film, and while I still love them both, I think Alien is about as near to ideal as a sci-fi horror movie can get. You never care that much about any of the characters, because you never learn all that much about them (aside from the fact that they are all married to one another, which you know from a YouTube prologue and because the men shout "My wife!" over and over like a bad Borat sketch). This is where Scott succeeds in recreating the horror-fueled dread his original masterpiece had. All the terror-inducing moments from the trailers pay off just as you expect them to, which is a rarity with movies today.

It's also a clue that viewers of a certain stripe (hi!) will once again find it more fulfilling to mine this thing for subtext than to take anything Scott shows us at facehugging value.

Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant has finally landed in theaters, and though it manages to juggle (and in some cases, kill) a large cast of characters - including two played by Michael Fassbender - you can't just see the movie itself without missing out on a lot of the necessary backstory.


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