Disney's Alice Destroys Box Office Expectations
By John Hamann
March 7, 2010
Critical response wasn't as warm to Alice as it was to Avatar, but this is Tim Burton, not James Cameron, so we knew going in that not everyone was going to be happy. Alice in Wonderland garnered 182 reviews, and of those, 97 were positive, giving Alice a 53% fresh rating from general critics. Top critics were slightly higher at 61%. These scores are lower than usual for Burton, more Mars Attacks than Ed Wood, but I think there is at least a sliver of something to like for everyone. This is not your usual Alice in Wonderland, so we will likely not see the repeat business we saw with Avatar, but one never knows. According to the LA Times, Disney is going to need at least a multiplier of 3.0 to see some return on investment. The newspaper said last week that Alice cost $200 million to make, with likely another $100-150 million on that fantastic marketing campaign. How to Train Your Dragon opens in 3-D in only a few short weekends, so Alice needs to make hay while the sun shines.
Also beating estimates this weekend was Brooklyn's Finest, the only other new film in wide release this weekend. "Wide" may not be the most appropriate term for the crime drama, as Overture Films released it to only 1,936 venues in an interesting attempt at counter-programming. The film, which has a strong cast that includes Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, Ethan Hawke and Richard Gere, got off to a strong start, earning $13.5 million from that small venue count. That gives Brooklyn's Finest a solid venue average of $6,973, as it works against some poor critical notices that were somewhat unexpected for the Anton Fuqua (Training Day) film. Ninety reviews were counted at RottenTomatoes, of which only 31 were fresh, leaving Brooklyn with a fresh rating of only 34%. The good news for Overture is that this one cost only $25 million to make, so in this case, opening with only 10% of Alice in Wonderland's take isn't a bad thing.
After two weekends on top, Shutter Island gets shaken down to third this weekend, but the news is still good for the Marty Scorsese film. After dipping only 45% last weekend (a strong hold for a horror flick), Shutter Island holds similarly again this weekend. The Leo DiCaprio flick earned $13.3 million in its third frame, dipping only 41%. Often, when a film like Alice opens, it draws away from all of the holdovers, but because Shutter Island is an R rated film, it isn't impacted. The $80 million Paramount film has now outgrossed its budget domestically, as its total now sits at $95.8 million. It will cross the $100 million mark next weekend, and will become Scorsese's third film to cross the century mark.
Fourth goes to Cop Out, the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan comedy from director Kevin Smith. After opening to $18.2 million, audiences figured out that this one might not be so great. The weekend total in its second frame came in at $9.1 million, giving it a drop of 50%. Its Rotten Rating of 19% told us this was going to happen. Cop Out now sits with a gross of $32.4 million against a budget of only $30 million. It's hard to believe, but this is already Kevin Smith's biggest film, as it got by Zack and Miri Make A Porno ($31.5 million domestic total).