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'Alita: Battle Angel' charges into a busy December

The mall isn’t the only place that figures to be jammed ahead of Christmas this year. Movie theaters are set for a pre-holiday crush of their own, with Fox announcing today that “Alita: Battle Angel” will join an already crowded field.

The sci-fi thriller “Alita,” a manga adaptation directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by James Cameron, now gets a Dec. 21 release date. It had previously been slotted for a July 20 opening.

By moving to the weekend before Christmas, “Alita” will open against Paramount’s “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee,” Warner Bros.’ latest DC Comics adventure, “Aquaman” and Sony’s Will Ferrell comedy “Holmes & Watson.”

During the weekend of Dec. 14, fans will get a look at Universal Pictures’ “Mortal Engines” adaptation and Sony Pictures’ animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Then on Christmas Day, Walt Disney Pictures is set to deliver “Mary Poppins Returns” while Fox launches the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

December is always a big month for blockbuster releases, but there is one thing missing in 2018: For the first time in four years there won’t be a “Star Wars” film. That’s because Disney’s latest franchise entry, “Solo,” debuts in May.

In announcing their upcoming slate, Fox also pushed back the launch of their franchise reboot “The Predator.” The Shane Black film, originally slated for an Aug. 3 release, is swapping release dates with the young adult adaptation “The Darkest Minds” and will now arrive Sept. 14.

Looking ahead to 2019, Fox has set a release date for “Death on the Nile,” the sequel to last year’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” A bit further down the line, the studio announced that Blue Sky Animation’s “Foster” will arrive March 5, 2021.

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